A Tribute to Black History Month

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.