Vermont, 1924

i did first meet sara chickering
when i had comings here last year
to be a fresh-air girl in vermont.

pretty quick daddy did have comings after me.
sara chickering made two rooms to be for us
in her big farmhouse
with her dog jerry.
                                               esther hirsh, age 6

willie said:
at the klan meeting last night
the dragons talked about lighting you
and your daddy up
to get them some warmth on a cold day.
you’d be cheap fuel, they said
i turned my back on willie pettibone and walked out of school
without my coat
without my hat
i didn’t feel the cold
i was that scorched
                                           leanora sutter, age 12

they say maple sugar
is becoming as old-fashioned
as the paisley shawl,
but to see esther hirsh suck on a lump,

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her face star-blissed with
sweet delight,
i think that old-time maple,
it’s still all right.
                                 sara chickering, farmer, age 42

we have anti-lynching laws on the books.
but that isn’t why necks
are less often
swinging in nooses.

it is the people
saying no.
                            reynard alexander, age 48

Why were Esther and her father targeted?

Why Leanora?

Why did the adults change their attitudes?

Do people today act that way?

Read Karen Hesse’s book, Witness, to find out.

 

One thought on “Witness

  1. Very interesting. Thank you. Requires, for me, some cogitation and mulling over on this cool autumn day, something to be thinking about.

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