United Church of Chapel Hill
February 20, 2019
Readers, Readings, and Performers
Anna Richards- Liberty and Slavery by George Moses Horton
Betty A. Curry- I am Not Your Negro by James Baldwin
Brevan Hampden- Congo drum
Cameron Barr- A Prayer Before the Everlasting Fountain by Gardner C. Taylor
Chris Blue- Called to Rise by Chief David Brown
Dan Vermeer- Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
David Mateo- Letter from Birmingham Jail by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Deborah Stroman- And Still I Rise by Maya Angelou || James Baldwin on The Dick Cavett Show
Fred Joiner- A Small Needful Fact by Ross Gay
Jennifer Evans- Song: This Little Light of Mine
Kelly Fairman- Song: Ooh Child – The Five Stairsteps
Latarnda Strong- What if I am a Black Woman? Author Unknown
Laurie Paolicelli- Writings on the Wall by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
Lydia Lavelle- Heartbeats by Melvin Dixon
Marilyn McClain- Ancestry Portal of Love by Marilyn McClain || The Sun Streamed Across the Pool by Alfonso B. McClain
Michelle Laws- We wear the Mask by Langston Hughes || The Souls of Black Folk by W.E.B. Du Bois
Nancy White- #5 from Dark Testament and Other Poems by Pauli Murray
Nicho Stevens- A Small Place by Jamaica Kincaid
Penny Rich- Lady Freedom Among Us and Heart to Heart by Rita Dove
Regina Dozier- Song: I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel to Be Free” || My House Too by Regina Dozier
Sherick Hughes- My Skin is Unqualified by Sherick Hughes
Ted & Halona Shaw- For My People by Margaret Walker
Terrance Foushee- The Attic by Terrance Foushee
Wanda Hunter- Theme for English B by Langston Hughes
Italics – Invited Guests of UCCH
Ancestry Portal of Love by Marilyn McClain
This is how I Love You
My Love For You
It is the love our ancestors had for each other,
Not Yet Born…
They dare not openly express, in those times,
that space of physical bondage.
Inside, they coveted the Strength to Love
Now they express through us
It is not only my love, but their love
You experienced it with Madear.
Your Mother, Aunts
It is their courage to love, that we share with each other.
It is their voice that we hear when we share thoughts
It is their breath that we breathe
Now, do you understand how our love defies time, distance and space.
Now do you understand how words can’t capture my love for you.
The Depth and Breadth of Our Holy, Spiritual Communion
Generations of unexpressed love-now free to be
In the expression of You & Me
We are love unlimited
The pain of the Middle Passage
Gave rise, birth, to a fierce courage to love and protect,
To honor and have reverence for the skin we are in
Black Women Loving Each Other
It is my Ancestry, Your Ancestry,
PORTAL OF LOVE
It is their Blessings of Love that we breathe into each other.
I Kiss this Love into you.
I want the sweet words that roll off my tongue, and my arms wrapped around you,
To bring sanctuary to your soul
It is Power and Grace that wraps around us
As We Share
The Fire of Making Love…Mind, Body and Spirit
We are the embodiment of all their love, expressing through us
They make it possible for me to love you this way.
All my love to You
Karen J. Ridley
My House Too by Regina Dozier
My Skin is Unqualified by Sherick Hughes
My skin is unqualified assemblages of race and time
in dialogue, member-checking, crystallization, critique;
and critical inquiry with others like and unlike me.
Am I just liberal, old-fashioned, and radical inside
enough to hear and protect my own Black political hide?
And, my skin is unqualified for this academic ride?
Still I rise, fail, fall, and rise above eyes of prejudice pride.
My skin, red from Maya Little’s blood painting social justice;
campus soldiers and civilians share racial battle fatigue
when: fighting hateful groups, who prefer silent and grateful troupes.
I am representing the underrepresented on hand,
witnessed White students with race cards played to have a brother banned,
as he serves more committees than senior faculty have planned
for target talent, superstars of his academic strand.
My skin is unqualified walking as dark-brown me outside
with White college degrees as I breathe writing inside tonight
self-assured, critical, and pensively pondering my plight,
as I sit between the two of me reflecting and weeping,
can’t claim that I am woke, but I am having trouble sleeping
with professorial me, and some company he’s keeping.
Long after dinner, doing race research, service, teaching,
my skin serves and stretches over invisible work moments
that other faculty seem able to dysconsciously shirk.
Cautious of White anti-racists, though welcomed accomplices,
I am Black students resolute, sad, weary of excuses;
poured pain on my neckties rendered Jerry and Cortland’s nooses
worn in our communities that whitewash Black abuses,
and profess to favor freedom as whiteness reproduces.
My skin is unqualified as a poet to publish lines,
Black father husband son brother, Education professor;
critical, schooled and educated as ever, however
angry-sad when: power averts my eyes boasting victories
sporting structural masks with a monolith of miseries;
when: diehard fans find it hard to bury White supremacy’s
monuments misdirect my gaze, distorting state histories.
I am a 1980s picture of Jordan and Perkins
juxtaposed with a monument that silently hates and ghosts
like the “horse-whipped Negro wench” who “insulted…Southern lady.”
I am the child who qualified for school lunch, free and reduced
now qualified for “free” lunch, dinner, and snacks, but Whites still choose
the task: how to diffuse White supremacy with White-based rules.
The invitation for my voice sometimes smells of well-cooked ruse.
My skin is unqualified, am i… am I…I am…Am I!
The Attic by Terrence Foushee
Chapel Hill is a place where I’ve never been able to explain its feel.
This has to look like Pleasantville, USA.
That Carolina blue gloss
Seals our edges, it’s our finishing coat of paint
It touches up our corners and covers our blemishes.
I can’t see why you wouldn’t want to live here
I’ve never seen one, but I’m pretty sure our brochures are awesome
I can see it now:
“Welcome to Chapel Hill
Where we’ve got good schools, good basketball, and soon good football.
If you ever need a reason to come here
Just remember… We’re not Durham… or Fayetteville.”
You’d almost get the eerie feeling that we’re perfect here.
But just how a fresh coat of paint only covers a dirty wall
And sweeping some dirt under the rug ain’t never made a floor clean
Chapel Hill ain’t everything that our outsiders may perceive.
I remember I used to hate cleaning.
I was good at vacuuming and every now and then, I’d dust
But I was never good at putting things away.
Every spring cleaning would lead me to
sift through crumpled papers in search of treasure
My closet was a gold mine
History of my life that I’d thrown away like broken promises.
And Chapel Hill has a closet of history books and museums
Underneath its soil.
Our feet are planted on broken spines of books
History that was whipped and ripped out of our textbooks
Like loose leaf pages and our hands are stained from its paper cuts.
Black folks have been here painting our sky and campus
Carolina blue and we’ve put their paint brushes in the attic
Their backs have been building blocks of our beauty and
Their legacies have been hiding like shadows at midnight.
These dead souls have been cataloguing living libraries
Dying to be read
Oral histories that would have penned paragraphs
But many have been stacked silently in the basement beneath our soles.
In my 29 years of living,
Chapel Hill has always been a lovely place to live
The grass always seems to be mowed
Everybody got they Chyna sets that you can’t touch
We’ve dusted our countertops and set up our furniture so that it is Feng Shui.
We greet you at the door here and ask you about your family.
We can trace a lot of who you are kin to just by your last name.
Our kitchens carry scents of caramel crusts and melting macaroni and cheese
Our living room couches are comfortable and makes you feel like you belong.
We’ve always shown you what we want you to see
But in our closets, our attics, and basements
You will find so much more that you haven’t seen.
Maybe we’re afraid of the creaking boards that screech when we step with unsure toes
Maybe it’s quite inconvenient to crawl into the dark
Because we’ve always had that cascading Carolina blue shining in our windows
Or maybe the smell of rotting history is too pungent for your nostrils to inhale.
But I ask of you, let’s take a trip downstairs or pulldown that door from our ceiling
And uncover those treasures that we thought we lost a while back
Let’s crack open those old journals and blow circling dust rings off those newspapers
Let’s hear the voices that whisper underneath our wood floors
And tell their stories to one another.
So, these wonderful bodies that have been tossing and turning in their coffins
Because they feel that we’ve forgotten about them
Can finally rest the way God intended.