Inspiring Voices on Brown vs. Board: Johnique's Poem #OurChallengeOurHope

Hi, I'm Nique Wilson and this is my poem,
"The Deep End" At the Lincoln Park Public Pool
I Was told that I could not swim In the deep end. That I was just too small. I was only 6 or 7 years old at the time. But I knew damn well
I was good enough, And I was so tired of slummin’ it,
Of my talents being wasted away In two feet of water So one day,
At the perfect moment, At the perfect time,
When the life guards weren’t looking, And neither was the one person
Who could ever possibly stop me… My mother… I snuck over to the edge
Of the deep end, and stared inside. 5 feet of beautiful, breath taking, misty
Grey public pool water. Disgusting sounding, I know. But at the Time, it was the most enticing
thing my young Eyes had ever seen. I backpedaled,
All the way up to the fence, And I ran. So hard my feet hurt. So fast my vision blurred,
And when I leapt into the water I was convinced that I could fly In a world hell bent on their grounding,
Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks, Diane Nash, and Fannie Hamer were convinced that they
could fly. They didn’t leap into public pools,
They leapt into voting registries, They leapt into seats at the front of the
bus, They leapt into the streets
And they marched until their shoes, Were no longer there to
Keep their feet from bleeding, To protect them from the cuts and scrapes,
The battle scars that came with change. These marvelous human souls dove head first
Into a sea of hatred. To prove to the rest of the world that
The pigmentation of their skin, Did not make them
Any less human. That if anything it made them more. They fought for a brighter future,
A stronger society, An accurate version of equality,
They fought for a great America. Let’s Make America Great Again. Oh, Please !
America was never great. And prejudice and racism
Was never dead. Just dormant. It was hidden in the shadows,
Shielded behind closed doors, It was flying around like gnats
Whispering in our ears. Telling us that we weren't good enough. It was etched in the bathroom stalls at school. It was worn as a mask when we were
Being followed around the mall, When the sound of police cruisers
Slowing behind us as we walked down the street, Was the bad dream that
kept us up in the middle of the night. And it was locked inside the tears,
The ones we shed, When we were little and
Wished that God had never learned… To color inside the lines… The thing about
The little girl I was, The one who thought
She could prove herself. The one who thought she was
good enough to make it in The deep end… The girl who was convinced that she could
fly… She was in for a rude awakening,
When I finally hit the water, Just when I thought that I had
Made it, Just when I thought I had proved myself. When My feet hit the ground,
I couldn’t find My way Back up to the surface… I panicked,
I forgot how to swim, And I almost drowned. Thank you Johnique for sharing your voice
and your heart. You are such an inspiration. When I think about Brown v Board, I think
about how it provided hope when hope was needed, but also how, today, that hope has faded for
so many students, especially those facing the greatest challenges. On its anniversary, Brown v Board will be
fresh on the minds of people around the country. But what happens after? Will you think about Johnique tomorrow? What about next week? Will you join the Alliance for Excellent Education
over the next year as we explore issues of equity and the unmet promise of Brown v Board? Will you stick with us as we make sure the
spotlight doesn’t dim until the next anniversary? Student voice will be a great part of our
campaign. Will you lend your voice as well? Share your challenges and hopes with us using
the hashtag OurChallengeOurHope or visit to share your thoughts. Johnique, let’s start with you. My challenge is that I'm a black girl in America. And my hope is that one day, that won't matter.

3 thoughts on “Inspiring Voices on Brown vs. Board: Johnique's Poem #OurChallengeOurHope

  1. Incredible words, Johnique! Thank you for sharing your brilliance with us!

  2. Education matters and all our youth deserve an appropriate and equitable education.

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