A loving person
She had no animosity toward nobody
She took care of this family for generations
She took in others
She was just that type of person
She taught us never to hate
Matriarch of the family; trustee of the church;
mother of two, one of whom credits you
with raising fifty more. You brought up your kids
in the East Side projects. When your son moved out,
you took in two young people who needed a place to stay.
That, they say, was just your way. Cousins, nieces, nephews,
grands and greats–you dried tears, bandaged knees,
fed them on love and collard greens, and, one great-nephew said,
taught them right from wrong. One nephew died trying to save you.
You were fond of Proverbs 22:6: “Start children off on the way they should go,
and even when they are old, they will not turn from it.”
If only those who’d raised the child
who sent you on to glory
had started him off that way,
you might have made it to that family reunion
you’d been looking forward to.
The massacre of nine people on Wednesday, June 17th at the historic Emanuel A.M.E. church in Charleston, South Carolina, is a tragedy of national proportions. I feel strongly that this is a time for all Americans to act in whatever way we can to address the racial hatred that lives on in our country in ways both great and small. This is the fifth of a series of poems honoring the victims of the Charleston shooting.
The words that open this poem are those of Susie Jackson’s family members. Many of the details about the keystone role she played in her family are taken from an article in Charleston’s Post and Courier. At 87, she was the oldest of the victims of the Charleston shooting; her nephew TyWanza Sanders, died trying to save her.