Poetry by Sherrill D. Wilson: Holding the Vision, Artifacts…

Sherrill D Wilson, PhD

Urban Anthropologist

Full biography below

Holding the Vision

I pray you are well…
I pray you are calm
with a steady hand…
I pray you know that you are
Protected and in the hands of the Almighty
In spite of the travails
You lay down and rise with

Rezo para que estés bien…
Oro para que esté tranquilo
con una mano firme …
Oro para que sepas que eres
Protegidos y en las manos del Todopoderoso
A pesar de las penalidades
Se encuentra recostado y se levanta con

I will hold the vision
I will hold the lantern
as if I am a bright star in a dark sky
Imagining you by my side
Imaging you in my arms
Where I cannot tell where we each begin and end…

Voy a mantener la visión
Voy a sostener la linterna
como si yo soy una estrella brillante en el cielo oscuro
Imaginando que a mi lado
usted proyección de imagen en mis brazos
Donde no puedo decir donde cada uno de nosotros comienzan y terminan …

My heart radiates a beacon
Although you are not near
Its scope and compass is not limited
by distance nor difficulties
…as is the nature of miracles.

Mi corazón irradia un faro
Aunque tu no estas cerca
Su ámbito de aplicación y la brújula no se limita
por la distancia ni las dificultades
… como es la naturaleza de los milagros.

I will hold the vision…
For it is a gift given to me,
entrusted to me,
and if it must be,
I will hold it tenaciously
for the both of us
shielding and safe guarding it as one
would a delicate new seedling one hopes
will transition into to a hardy plant.
I will hold the vision…
until it can be lovingly shared by you.

I will hold the vision…

Voy a mantener la visión …
Porque es un regalo que me ha dado,
que me ha confiado,
y si tiene que ser,
Voy a mantener tenazmente
para los dos de nosotros
blindaje y seguro que guarda como una
haría una nueva delicada plántula es de esperar
será la transición a una planta resistente.
Voy a mantener la visión …
hasta que se pueda amar compartida por ti.


Sherrill D Wilson (2016)



the things left behind

Small things, often overlooked
by prying eyes
beads, glass and clay-fired
blue, brown, red, colorless,
tiny crystals,
small smooth round stones,
sea shells carrying memories of the fateful journey
on the rough seas that brought me to this conquered land,
charms and wristlets, small animal bones and buttons.
Perhaps they carry no meaning or value for others,
as they are not rubies or diamonds torn from caves or underground mines.
But for me these small things left behind are
signs of my perseverance and resistance.

My day,
my time,
my labor,
my child,
my man,
my body
Belong to others.

And yet those small things overlooked and forgotten
connect me to the earth,
connect me to the Almighty.
They protect and assure me.
Bind me to my past,
to my people
and to my sweet home forgotten.

God and those small things
held close to my heart,
time after time,
day in and day out
Keep me waking up in my right mind…


Sherrill D Wilson

From: Poetic License: Rumblings from the NY African Burial Ground & Beyond (2016)



Celebrating New York Freedom

July 5, 1827

In the north…
New York was not the first
nor the last to release the reigns
of its enslaved people.
Like other northern states NY struggled with schemes for gradual emancipation
officially declaring the enslaved to be free July 4, 1799.
But in actuality nearly thirty years passed
before freedom became a reality for Africans who were held in bondage in the Empire state.
It was preceded by emancipation in Vermont, and Massachusetts,
and followed by Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, and Connecticut.
New Jersey did not fully emancipate the Africans enslaved there until 1865.

Few Africans wanted the tiresome and troubled associations
with the July 4th revolutionary cause to diminish
their moment of long overdue recognition and jubilation.
For Africans were not deemed worthy of liberty in 1776
from those indignant and hypocritical descendants of Britain
who demanded their own freedom from
the chains of their colonial master.
Africans chose instead July 5,
as their day of celebration, elation and triumph.

From Albany to Manhattan
the trail of rejoicing
regaled throughout the day and the night.
A parade proceeded along Broadway
from City Hall to the Battery
4,000 strong the formerly enslaved paraded
boldly and audaciously–
led by an honor guard on horseback
and a grand marshal with a drawn sworn.

Finally convening at Mother African Zion Church
Salutations, Prayers and Tears,
Songs of Praise and Gratitude
Dinners and Sermons
Mothers and children were re-united.
Grown men wept.

Sherrill D Wilson
Poetic License: Rumblings from the NY African Burial Ground and Beyond (2016)


Sherrill D Wilson, PhD

Urban Anthropologist

Dr. Sherrill D Wilson earned a M.A. and Ph.D. in Cultural Anthropology from the New School for Social Research in 1991. She is the author of New York City’s African Slave Owners: A Social and Material Culture History (1994). She served as the founding director of the Office of Public Education and Interpretation for the National Monument NY African Burial Ground located in lower Manhattan from 1993-2005. Dr. Wilson lectures and writes on the subjects of the African presence in colonial and early New York, and the enslaved African presence in the north. She has lectured at the Smithsonian Institute, the American Museum of Natural History, the National Monument NY African Burial Ground, the Museum of the City of NY, the US Mission to the United Nations, the American Institute of Architects (AIA), the NY Historical Society, the Schomburg Center for Research on Black Culture and numerous other organizations and institutions nationally and internationally. She is the recipient of the 2005 History Visionary Award from the Manhattan Borough Presidents Office and the first recipient of the African American Heritage Award from Historic Hudson Valley Museum in Tarrytown, NY. In 1999 she was recognized by the Mayor’s office of the City of NY as a Centennial Historian.

She is also, an Associate Editor and contributor for the 2nd edition of the Encyclopedia of New York City (Yale University Press and the NY Historical Society).

Dr. Wilson lectures via Speakers for the Humanities Program, for the NY Council of the Humanities on the NY African American Experience. She is the Subject Matter Expert on the design of the Interpretative Center for the National African Burial Monument in New York City. She teaches Pluralism and Diversity in America, African American History, American History, and Prehistoric Archaeology at Rockland Community College in Suffern, NY. She also teaches Urban Anthropology and introduction to Sociology at Manhattan College in Riverdale, NY. Dr. Wilson was the recipient of  the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Teaching Excellence in 2015.

Currently she is completing “Poetic License: Rumblings from the NY African Burial Ground and Beyond,” a book of poetry and collage.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related Posts

Begin typing your search term above and press enter to search. Press ESC to cancel.

Back To Top