Mother to Son

By Langston Hughes

Well, son, I’ll tell you:
Life for me ain’t been no crystal stair.
It’s had tacks in it,
And splinters,
And boards torn up,
And places with no carpet on the floor—
Bare.
But all the time
I’se been a-climbin’ on,
And reachin’ landin’s,
And turnin’ corners,
And sometimes goin’ in the dark
Where there ain’t been no light.
So boy, don’t you turn back.
Don’t you set down on the steps
’Cause you finds it’s kinder hard.
Don’t you fall now—
For I’se still goin’, honey,
I’se still climbin’,
And life for me ain’t been no crystal stair.

Son to Mother

By Ron Walker

Well, Mother, I’ll tell you, life has been easier because of you.
But, though that’s so, it still hasn’t always been a crystal stair!

Because of you, I can see the tacks and the boards in the stairs torn up and understand how to use them as inspirations not obstacles.

It was your love of education, resilience, and determination that has been the bright spotlight shining on the staircase of life.

That spotlight has steered me safely away from the tacks and torn up boards.

This light shines brightest on the tacks of inequity, bias, and discrimination that you knew so well as a child and a young woman raised in troubled times.

You never let the hard times you faced dim your enthusiasm, optimism, and thirst for learning.

You always lifted hope in the unseen and reminded me to “keep the faith”.

You always knew that the future would be brighter for me and education would be my North Star.

Yes, mother you were right. The power of education continues to liberate me.

It has allowed me to confront injustices and disrupt dehumanizing practices that threaten the learning potential of poor and marginalized students.

Because of the regular inoculations with the cultural vaccine that you dosed me with, I have been able to stand tall and use my “Voice” to speak truth to power.

Your vaccine consisted of compassion, comfort, and inspiration from the powerful poetry readings and recitations of works by Langston Hughes, Gwendolyn Brooks, Paul Laurence Dunbar, and others.

Each dose injected was specifically intended to build and strengthen my esteem and identity immune system.

And yes, Mother, it worked!

So, Mother, you have been a sought after and trusted counselor providing sound, sage advice, and support.

Because of you, I won’t turn back.

I won’t give up the fight even when it gets kind of hard. And if I falter or carry doubts, that’s when I will lean on your unconditional love and words of wisdom that have carried me through all these years. I will continue to inspire others as you have inspired me to keep climbing the crystal staircase of opportunity until I reach the top.

Sincerely and with eternal love,
Your Son,
Ron