April Sojourner Truth Walker, PMP is a Dallas native, who studied at Emory University in Atlanta and Hollins University in Virginia prior to calling Oklahoma City home. Before starting her writing coaching company – A Little More Truth, LLC – in April of 2020, she worked for seven years as a Senior Project Manager at AT&T. April is also currently an Adjunct Professor at Oklahoma City Community College where she’s taught a myriad of classes in the Humanities since 2016. A perfect day for April is one spent in nature with her camera, a cup of tea, and nowhere to be. Her current manuscript, Fire Psalm, grapples with how the history of the black community in Dallas is covered up by the city’s constant need to revitalize its image. Follow April on her website and on Instagram.
by April Sojourner Truth Walker
1. Graduate School
My mother hands me the latest version of Texas
History textbooks. I’ve asked for it. And though
she doesn’t know how it will help
she’s taken a copy that can be spared.
The book is heavier than I remember, its cover
simplified—metallic star emblazoned on royal blue.
I flip past chapter assessments, colored pages
highlighted critical thinking prompts until I find
what I need—the Civil War and Texas. But I don’t read
the text. My eyes are drawn to the corner of a page
where black children, women, men stand or stoop
in rows of cotton—women with baskets balanced
on scarf-wrapped heads, burlap sacks slung
over men’s shoulders, children no more than six hugging
their mothers’ thighs. The picture is not photo but cartoon.
A colorful rendition of white fields dotted by black faces
staring blankly. How many daguerreotypes of slaves
did the artist study before creating the image
my mother teaches to distracted nine-year-olds.
2. Middle School
We have a visitor—Roland Warren’s mother—
who apparently wrote a book about a great-grandfather
or uncle. But I am busy watching my crush drop
popcorn kernels into the heater in the back of the room.
Before our class she stands, prattles on of her great
so-and-so. See, she says, beaming, pointing to the man
in sepia, cowboy hat cocked back, right hand on hip
where a holstered pistol rests, he was a bit of a rebel.
She passes the book. When it reaches me I look long
into his eyes, relieved our paths will never cross.
3. Elementary School
It is the first day of class
and in the back room Mrs. Connor hands
each of us a textbook and paper cover.
At my desk I place the book’s spine
in the center of the paper. But
the book is new and I am distracted
by the beautiful sand-colored binding
the Texas borders enclosing scenes of oil
rigs, longhorns, men on horseback gallantly
waving hats in an unseen breeze. I consider
leaving the book unprotected. But I know
in May any damage will be my responsibility—
so I follow instructions, cover.
Torch Literary Arts is a 501(c)3 nonprofit established to publish and promote creative writing by Black women. We publish contemporary writing by experienced and emerging writers alike. TORCH has featured work by Colleen J. McElroy, Tayari Jones, Sharon Bridgforth, Crystal Wilkinson, Patricia Smith, Natasha Trethewey, Elizabeth Alexander, and others. Programs include the Wildfire Reading Series, writing workshops, and retreats.