Mrs. White was Black,
I, white, loved blues,
She taught me to put rhythm in my prose,
A dab of Charlie Parker shortened some sentences;
smoothed some edges,
Mrs. White spoke every syllable,
Nobody said "particular" they way she did,
Her voice was smooth as a Louis Armstrong solo,
She always called him Louis.
Sometimes we spent extra minutes talking about Billie, or Jean Toomer, or
the Big Bands she saw at the World's Fair
Jimmie Lunceford was her favorite,
I love how she said Lunceford,
Mrs. White never lost her sense of humor,
She understood why black actors played the parts they did,
She saw the power that came from their pain.
We talked about images in the mind... Amos 'N Andy...the TV version
The massive talent of Tim Moore (Kingfish) was something she placed in front of
her students who were members of the Black Panther Party.
Mrs. White defied them not to laugh; they smiled then erupted in laughter,
(she knew they would)
she knew there was real comedy in those forced roles.
She praised talent,
She wanted to give credit where it was due,
to make Black Power part of enduring.