What Is In My Name: A Tribute to Black History Month

What Is In My Name: A Tribute to Black History Month

From the Rev. Dr. Deborah R. Brown, rector of St. John the Evangelist, Milwaukie

What Is In My Name

In my name is the Nigerian queen sold into slavery
lost her children, tribe, heritage, and name
chained to rust and iron

In my name floated nameless bodies at the bottom of the Atlantic sea
bodies as property and cash to work land never to own
given names not by choice,
my name now

In my name represents the ones
denied ordination to the priesthood, equal access to education, housing, and opportunities
every educated doctor, lawyer, engineer,
teacher, professional who had to work on the Union Railroad, and other jobs
as domestics excluded from their professions
called only by first names, or “boy”, “gal”, “darkie”, not Dr., Mrs., Mr., Reverend
their children “pickaninnys”

In my name is every person who read “colored only” “whites only” signs,
saw burnt crosses, nooses, draggings, and burnings
reacted to salve for dog bites, bruises from Billy clubs
horrified at the sight of blue lights in the rearview window

In my name is every tear-filled parent who
had to draw and cut out on paper bags the outline of her feet and her children’s feet
for department store shoes, and wasted hard earned money on unreturnable clothes

In my name represents those denied college educations
acceptance into doctoral programs

In my name represents being the “first” in many things

In my name represents every poor and marginalized person
effected by the Vanport Flood, displaced and redlined in Portland,
micro-aggressions, setbacks, humiliations, determinations,
perseverance against oppression and marginalization

In my name represents being rendered invisible and viewed as less than

In my name represents Dr. Maya Angelou, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr,
the Honorable Thurgood Marshall, Dr. DeNorval Unthank,
Dr. Clarence Pruitt, Judge Mercedes Deiz, Rev. Pauli Murray, Bishop Barbara Harris
General Colin Powell, President Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama,
not Maya, Martin, DeNorval, Pauli, Barbara, Mercedes, Colin, Barack, Michelle

In my name is the fulfillment of chattel slaves’ dreams and weary protestors’ hopes
My name is the Rev. Dr. Deborah R. Brown, (aka. Rev. Dr. Brown, Dr. Brown, Rev. Deborah)
my ancestors and colored folks of yesteryears and today cry out,
“do not call her only by her first name Deborah!”

I agree. In my name is everything.