Here’s a story nobody Knows

Katherine Dunham
East St. Louis
Queen Esther

The Raza de-Purim, the Secret of Purim, part 2

East St. Louis —
Susie and I sat with Katherine Dunham
Through her hunger strike
The boat people from Haiti
Turned back to their
Distressed island.

“Haiti is a tragedy
Waiting to happen,”

Miss Dunham said.

Aristide came to visit
Jesse Jackson
Louis Farrakhan
We stood in the room
Susie and I
With the Nation of Islam.

We sat in her bedroom with Miss Dunham
She played with the crystals and geodes
She kept on a large ceramic dish on her bed —

It was 1992
Miss Dunham was determined
To turn world attention
To Haiti.

“This isn’t just about Haiti,” she said.
“It’s about America.
This country doesn’t feel that Haitians are human.
And America treats East St. Louis the way it does Haitians.”

We were all worried she was going to die —
She was 82 years old.

We met many people at her house
In East St. Louis —
We went there often
And prayed on the front steps
At nightfall.

Several days before the end of her
Hunger strike
— It was coming on Purim
Susie told her
The story of Queen Esther

And how Esther ended her hunger strike
The day before Purim,

And so Miss Dunham
Asked Susie to prepare her
Some chicken soup —

And at the end of the fast of Esther
The day before Purim
Wednesday, March 18, 1992
Miss Dunham drank the soup.

They had established for themselves
and their descendants
the matters of the fasts
and their cry
(Esther 9:31).

And though it was not reported
In the newspapers
Nor on TV —

That is how Katherine Dunham
Ended her hunger strike
After 47 days,

And turned the attention of the world
To Haiti —

Before Haiti
a Tragedy.

jsg, usa