The Magnolia Literacy Project
LaWanda Dickens "Stone Mountain: Hiking for My Ancestors"
Updated: May 24, 2022
This poem was motivated by Dickens' fondness for Stone Mountain and her conversations with two friends, African American war veterans, who choose not to visit the historic site, which honors confederate soldiers. Pictured below is Dickens during three of her visits to Stone Mountain.
An educator, writer, and former journalist, Dickens is a Brookhaven, Mississippi, native and graduate of Jackson State University, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts in English/Journalism and a Master of Arts in English. She also attended Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan, where she studied Composition and Rhetoric. Her research interests include Hip Hop studies; service-learning in college composition courses; and students' transfer of classroom knowledge to campus and community leadership.
"Stone Mountain: Hiking for My Ancestors"
Stone Mountain is the best part of visiting Atlanta.
This morning, I will go for a nice hike.
It's a friendly mountain that understands me,
Just the right amount of rigor and rest.
Two friends of mine, war veterans,
Told me they don't care for Stone Mountain
Because it commemorates confederate soldiers.
I get it.
It's hard enough being Black,
And haunted by symbols of hate
That represent people who inflicted deep-rooted pain.
I can only imagine what it must feel like
To be a Black Soldier at Stone Mountain,
A Black Soldier, unrepresented,
Confronted by the chilling presence
Of three demons on horses.
But as for that ugly, nasty ringworm
On the side of Stone Mountain,
The antifungal ointment
Will someday be applied.
And I will keep hiking
Because I get a kick
Out of disturbing the peace
Of dead soldiers
Who fought against
My Ancestors’ human rights.
The mere fact that I can stand
At the top of Stone Mountain,
As the hope and dream of my Ancestors,
Means those dead, racist soldiers will never R.I.P.
The feeling is triumphant.
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