9 Months Before Rosa

December 13, 2023

Inspired by the Life of Claudette Colvin


I wasn’t light-skinned 

My hair wasn’t “good” like hers

But I cared

About my people/about being stuck at the back of the bus/about my friend

          Jeremiah Reeves

          Who played the drums in a Jazz band

          He stood behind bars because

          They tortured him

          To speak/to confess

          To raping a white woman

          That summer–

          He didn’t.

I couldn’t handle it

My heart pounded with the

Bravery of Tubman

And the power of Truth

They didn’t want me in the history books

But there is power in youth

In being 15

In 1955

And not moving 

‘Cause there are rights they should abide by

I know it is my constitutional right

To sit in a seat I paid for

I didn’t fight with the officer

After he yanked me out of the chair

And my books flew in their air

Notes from history class

Flying away like blackbirds 


They dragged me off the bus

Stuffed me in the police car like luggage

Called me a thing

Guessed my bra size like I was


I didn’t know where I was going

At the time

People got burned alive for speaking their mind 

Or hung from trees for doing something like me

They put me in a jail cell

There is no sound quite like the locking of a door


I said the Lord’s Prayer  

And repeated Psalm 23

“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, 

I will fear no evil, for You are with me”

Reverend bailed me out

And my mother

Held me


Cydney Brown is the 2023 Northeast Regional Youth Poet Laureate, 2020-2021 Philadelphia Youth Poet Laureate, and author of “Daydreaming.” She is a Sophomore at Northwestern University and has been writing poetry since she was in 5th grade. Brown has been featured in The New York Times, Philadelphia Inquirer, 6abc, Philadelphia Citizen, and Fox29.


Featured image by Etty Fidele.