Tabatha A. Yeatts

Writer

THROUGH THE KEYHOLE
YOUTH WRITING CONTEST WINNERS

Through the Keyhole #1 by Harry W. Yeatts Jr.

THE KEYHOLE OF A NEGRO
By Olivia B.
Winner, 13-14 year-old category

Long ago, my door was free
To open and close as I wanted
I would open it to roam
Through the lush jungles
And wander over the savanna
But then one morning
My door was closed
And on it was a keyhole
I shook the door
I banged the door
But the door would not open
I sank wearily to my knees
My eye met the keyhole
And I looked out

I saw a foggy town
And a big tower that chimed the hour
I saw men in tall hats
Earn money for their work
I saw little children go to school
I saw busy mothers run a house
But I could not earn money
I could not go to school
I could not run a house
My door was locked

When I looked out of that keyhole
I saw large, stately house
In the middle of vast stretches of land
And I worked those lands
I cut my hands
My back had gashes
The width of a pen
I worked in the big house
I cooked the meals
I made the beds
I filled the baths
I dusted the parlor
My mistress yelled
My master beat
I did this work
And took those beatings
And still my door was locked

Through the keyhole
I saw a man, tall and quiet
But I admired him
That Mr. Lincoln
And I loved him
I saw two men
Brothers, they were
And they fought each other
Over me
But still my door was locked

When I looked out that keyhole
I saw a new era
Full of lights and sounds and colors
I experienced those lights
I knew those sounds
I walked along the streets
I shopped in those shops
But my streets were separate
My shops were separate
Separate from the white folks
I experience those lights, sounds, and colors
But still my door was locked
Then I saw a woman
Tired from work, hungry for supper
And she defied the white man
I saw a man through that keyhole
He walked, and walked, and walked
Hundreds also walked with him
And they were silent
They did no harm
They walked on and on
Soon, I saw many men, women, and children
Who walked and defied
Some silently, some with a voice of protest
And then, slowly, ever so slowly,
A key was put into my keyhole
And slowly it was turned

My door is now unlocked
I may open and close it when I please
I may go out and keep house
Go to school, work for pay
I do anything the white folks do
I shop at their shops
I walk their streets
I have their jobs
But my door still has a keyhole

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