For migrants, the church was the center of life.
— Jacob Lawrence
Church was the only thing we could depend on.
God was always there.
There when the thick rope hugged our loved one’s neck,
There when we were discriminated against because of our looks.
Church was where we sang our songs of happiness,
Even though our lives were filled with sorrow.
Church was our very souls,
Wrapped in the blanket of Jesus Christ.
Our home to be proud of the skin we wore,
Was where we were free to own our mistakes.
Where each day we held our brothers' and sisters' hands,
Praying for a better life,
Praying for a better future,
Praying for the horrid memories engraved in our brains to be erased.
Hoping for an easier life for the children of God.
Our escape from the evil of the world,
Hidden from the hate of the others.
And the protection from our deepest fears.
Was what everyone held on to,
What everyone leaned on.
Where we got the strength to fight for who we were,
Where we joined together as one,
Where we held hands and protected the lives of our children.
Church was our world,
Church was our life,
Church was our home.
When she wrote this piece, Nyah Williams was in the eighth grade. She lives in New York. Her poem is inspired by panel 54 of Jacob Lawrence’s “The Migration Series.” The purpose of Nyah’s poem is to spread Jacob Lawrence’s message and help people understand.
Artwork by: © Jacob Lawrence, The Migration Series, 1941. Courtesy of Museum of Modern Art, New York