Social Justice Poetry

Quincy, Illinois: 1962 | A Social Justice Poem by Donal Mahoney

(Long before Barack Obama)

In 1962 my father toiled in Quincy,
two weeks, no more,
and saw no blacks except for
two young ladies
who moved like swans
busing dishes
in a farmer’s cafeteria.

Daisy badges on their uniforms
announced their names,
their years of service.

He still remembers how
throughout his meal
he wanted to stand,
a stranger in a
seersucker suit,
and shout:

“How can you live here?
Where, except in church,
can you clap your hands
in emancipation?”

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