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Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The Dream Keeper

(The Problem We All Live With, 1963, by Norman Rockwell,
1894-1978, American artist and illustrator)

This month we will drop in on childhood.

It was 8:40 in the morning of November 14, 1960, when little Ruby Bridges tried to go to class at the William Franz School in New Orleans. She had to walk through a crowd of angry housewives and teenagers who came every morning to protest the integration of the school.

In his book
Travels with Charley, John Steinbeck wrote down what he saw that morning as he was driving through the city.

“The show opened on time. Sound the sirens. Motorcycle cops. Then two big black cars filled with big men in blond felt hats pulled up in front of the school. The crowd seemed to hold its breath. Four big marshals got out of each car and from somewhere in the automobiles they extracted the littlest Negro girl you ever saw, dressed in shining starchy white, with new white shoes on feet so little they were almost round. Her face and little legs were very black against the white.

“The big marshals stood her on the curb and a jangle of jeering shrieks went up from behind the barricades. The little girl did not look at the howling crowd, but from the side, the whites of her eyes showed like those of a frightened fawn. The men turned her around like a doll, and then the strange procession moved up the broad walk toward the school, and the child was even more a mite because the men were so big. Then the girl made a curious hop, and I think I know what it was. I think in her whole life she had not gone ten steps without skipping, but now in the middle of her first step, the weight bore her down and her little round feet took measured, reluctant steps between the tall guards. Slowly they climbed the steps and entered the school.”


Bring me all of your dreams,
You dreamers.
Bring me all your
Heart melodies
That I may wrap them
In a blue cloud-cloth
Away from the too-rough fingers
Of the world.

~ Langston Hughes (1902-1967), American novelist, playwright, and poet, active in the Harlem Renaissance

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