by Sonia Sanchez
Do not speak to me of martyrdom,
of men who die to be remembered
on some parish day.
I don’t believe in dying
though, I too shall die.
And violets like castanets
will echo me.
Reprinted from Hospitality, publication of the Open Door Collective, dedicated to the Black Jesus, which provided food and shelter to poor people in Atlanta and recently relocated to Baltimore as the members aged out and retired to live with children or grandchildren.
Sonia Sanchez – poet, activist, scholar – was born in Birmingham, Alabama (sometimes called “Bombingham” because of the KKK campaign of terror there) in 1934. She was the Laura Carnell Professor of English and Women’s Studies at Temple University in Philadelphia. She was formerly married to another poet, Etheridge Knight. She is the recipient of both the Robert Frost Medal for distinguished lifetime service to poetry in the US, and the Langston Hughes Poetry Award. One of the most important authors of the Black Arts Movement, Sanchez is the author of sixteen books. This is an excerpt from her poem, Malcolm. It seemed particularly appropriate given the recent exoneration of two men falsely convicted of involvement in the assassination of Malcolm X, and of the recent (unrelated) death of Malcolm’s youngest daughter, Malikah.