By DAVID COOPER
My father, mother, and I traveled six hundred miles
and twenty years back
in a brand new Plymouth sedan.
We traveled from Brown*
Back to Plessy**
in sixteen hours of straight driving
except for stops in small-town filling stations
Mount Sterling, Olive Hill, Ashland
Charleston, White Sulfur Springs
On old U.S. 60
Two lanes round and round
the tops of the Appalachians
through fog and moonlight and sunshine
On route 60
there were no motels
For colored people.
We traveled back to Jim Crow schools and
Jim Crow rules
Back to the Confederacy
Back to Dixie
Back to backdoors
Called “the crows’ nest”
Back to hurt and harm
*The Supreme Court decision to integrate public schools, Brown v. Board of Education in 1954.
**The Supreme Court decision in 1896 that made racial segregation constitutional, Plessy v. Ferguson.
David Cooper teaches English and African American Studies at Jefferson Community and Technical College in Louisville, Kentucky. He has published poetry in Mused Magazine, The Bluegrass Literary Review and The Kentucky Poetry Review.