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Ernie McCray: Christina Taylor Green on My Mind

Former Arizona basketball player Ernie McCray, who grew up in Tucson and played for the Wildcats from 1958 to 1960, has given us permission to reprint a beautiful poem he wrote about Christina Taylor Green.

The poem first appeared at the OB Rag, a blog site from the Ocean Beach community in San Diego. You can find more of his writing on his page at that site. McCray often comments on blogs at TucsonCitizen.com.

* * *

Christina Taylor Green on My Mind

I was a nine year old
about 63 and a half years ago,
growing up
around Speedway and Stone
in Tucson, Arizona,
affectionately known
as the Old Pueblo.
And in spite of bouts
with the likes of Old Jim Crow
it was
a good town
in which to grow,
as I learned how to
make my way around
its existing status quo,
finding the groove
that would allow
me to pursue
hopes and dreams
as I rose from childhood
to my teens,
to going out into
the big world
with its vast variety
of schemes
and themes
and things
that ring
I followed
my heart
and soul’s desires
and vowed to
always contribute to my town,
no matter where else
on earth I would land
and be found.
That, I feel, one
owes his or her hometown.

And although my thoughts
have always been
guided in a spirit of idealism
I’ve tried not to venture,
like some modern day Don Quixote
or Sancho Panza,
beyond realism,
confining my striving
to helping make my city
and, with it, my state,
merely better, not great
for what is great?
But, Lord, I never knew
that my city and state
would ever be in the state
it is in today.

A nine year old,
Christina Taylor Green,
was taken away
from us,
the living,
just yesterday,
January 8th,
not too very far
from where I grew up
and found my way.
From what I hear
she was very much like I was,
back in the 40′s.
Jim Crow, in his fullest form,
was not quite on the scene,
but she was trying to find a groove
that would allow her to pursue
hopes and dreams
in an atmosphere
of anger
directed towards
a somewhat newer brand
of “lesser thans,”
brown skinned immigrants,
an environment
that has given birth
to a fresher string
of schemes
and themes
and things
that ring
like it was with me,
was following
her heart
and soul’s desires
and had vowed
to contribute to her town,
her world.
This beautiful little girl,
had shown up at the wrong place,
at the wrong time,
out of an interest she had in politics
for some time.
She had just been elected to the student council
at her school
and had just wanted to be
where her Congresswoman
was meeting with her constituency.
She cared for those
who were less fortunate than she
happened to be.
But a man overflowing with
hatred in his heart shot
Christina Taylor Green down
many years before her time,
and now I, once a nine year old
member of my school’s student council
and one, who like her,
was keenly aware of the world’s inequalities,
will now continue
my quest for a more understanding world,
in an effort
to not let this precious girl
die in vain,
with her on my mind
until my breath is drawn
for the very last time -
in any way I can.
But first,
I’ll just cry
and send my love
to her family
as they mourn
their second born
and manage the strength
to carry on.

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