Author, Speaker, Educator
As we celebrate Black History Month, we think of individuals who have inspired us to believe in the power of ourselves and impact tremendous change. Lucille Clifton was born June 27, 1936 in Buffalo, New York, she attended Howard University on a scholarship and began to write about her heritage, her roots and passion. Some of her best work were poems and pieces that jumped off the page and made you visualize the characters and the settings. One of her most famous children book series “Some Days of Everett Anderson was a must-read piece in which the character dealt with everyday social issues and problems as a child, Lucille best quote was “We cannot create what we can’t imagine”. During the time when her writing was taking off and into the hands of young readers Lucille continue to write pieces and be featured in such books as My Black Me: A Beginning Book of Black Poetry.
In 1980 Clifton wrote a poem that was a national anthem to celebrate curvy black women called “Homage to My Hips”. I found this piece as a teenager in high school when I felt awkward about being a young black girl with curves and hips. In this poem Clifton let it out in a detailed description of how her hips do not apologize for being what they are which is beautiful. This poem celebrates the embodiment of black women’s sexuality, shape, empowering them to believe in the beauty of a curvaceous woman. Clifton continued to speak at events and was inducted into the Maryland Women’s Hall of Fame in 1993.
Her highest honor came in 2000 when she achieved the National Book Award for her volume, Blessing the Boats. Lucille Clifton poetry and writings tells the story of race, ghost, adversity, and triumph. One of her most pieces along with Homage to My Hips that stuck with me is her piece entitled Thirty Eighth Year. Clifton’s piece Thirty Eighth Year details a poem of woman remembering the fragments of her mother with the hopes that in her time of aging she has evolved far beyond the age of where her mother has passed. This poem is one of the most eye-awakening poems about defining womanhood, aging, and the symbolism of motherhood as she pulls the reader into to question am, I like my mother. You can find pieces on Lucille Clifton at Poets.org or search for her in the Poetry Foundation www.poetryfoundation.org. Lucille Clifton once said the literature of America should reflect the children of America. Thank you, Lucille Clifton for Homage To My Hips and my favorite Thirty-Eighth Year, you have empowered and inspired me to continue to write and hold my pen as a sword of change.