Brandon Greene


Born and raised in the harder South

Some might say with a silver spoon in my mouth

I don’t know I just had what my mother gave me

Father left at five she was the only one left to raise me

A strong black woman graduated high school at sixteen

Went to college and earned a degree from an Ivy League

First of her kind though her mother didn’t make it as far

Because when she was in school education had lowered the bar

My mother always told me to get an education

And don’t involve myself in idle recreation

She said those before me didn’t have as much

They weren’t allowed to read and a book they couldn’t touch

She told me to be grateful for the school I got to attend

Because back in the day going to school meant walking miles on end

She talked of schools with one classroom and no air

Black kids without textbooks the system wasn’t close to fair

Girls bombed in churches and beaten by forces but life is better today

We’re free to learn, free to read, and say what we want to say

One of few blacks in a sea of all white

But at least they let me learn; at least they treat me right

We’ve come a long way from those harsh days in the past

But there’s still more to do if we want this peace to last

I’m grateful to have been raised in a more accepting generation

That no longer prohibits learning and no longer allows segregation

Education shouldn’t be a privilege but a God given right

And though we’ve made progress the end is still not in sight

As long as there is color racism will always exist

However we need to learn to look past it and co-exist

Reflection on Poem

For my assignment on the Penn Center I chose to write a poem. I felt that the trip was about education for blacks in the past and the start of all black schools. Given that the Penn Center was originally a school I chose to write about education in my poem. I also chose to talk about what my mother used to tell me when I was younger and entering first grade. She and my grandmother always used to talk to me about what life was like for black children and black people before me. They always told me to be grateful for what I have and to not take my education for granted. The Penn School came before my mother was born, but I felt that her educational history and my grandmothers were relevant to the topic. My grandmother grew up in the segregation era and my mother did not; however, my mother still dealt with racism when she in school. She dealt with it by doing her best and giving her all in school. She ended up making better grades than her classmates and graduated high school at sixteen. Talking about my mother’s educational background reminded me of another reading that we read in class earlier in the semester. In that particular reading the writer dealt with his classmates the same way. Instead of being ashamed of being black he worked at his full potential and gave his all, which resulted in him receiving better grades on his exams. He received better grades than his classmates. Visiting the Penn Center and learning about its origin made me feel very privileged for the education and the freedom that I’ve been afforded. I thought the buildings were peacefully designed and efficient, but I felt the location was very rural.  I concluded my poem by talking about the lack of equality in our society and how things are much different now than how they were in the past but there is still much work to be done.

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