Section of The Crisis showing Newsome's poem
This section of a page from “The Crisis” children’s issue shows Newsome’s poem. From “The Crisis” vol. 24 no. 6, October 1922.

Welcome back to the Richmond Read-along! Today’s poem is from Effie Lee Newsome, best known for her poems and stories for children. She was a key figure of the Harlem Renaissance, the black cultural movement centring on Harlem in the 1920s, and is particularly notable for being an author of the movement whose work focussed on children. She also produced poems for adults, and illustrated her columns for children in “The Crisis,” the periodical edited for a time by Jessie Fauset.

Newsome was highly educated; although she didn’t receive a degree, she attended no fewer than four higher education institutions. She was a school librarian, as well as editing her columns in “The Crisis,” contributing to other publications and producing her own book of poetry. The poem we are reading today is typical of Newsome’s empowering writing, and the imagery shows her love of nature which she wished to pass on to those who read her work.

The Bronze Legacy, or To a Brown Boy

Tis a noble gift to be brown, all brown,
     Like the strongest things that make up this earth,
Like the mountains grave and grand,
     Even like the very land,
     Even like the trunks of trees—
     Even oaks, to be like these!
God builds His strength in bronze.

To be brown like thrush and lark!
     Like the subtle wren so dark!
Nay, the king of beasts wears brown;
     Eagles are of this same hue.
I thank God, then, I am brown.
     Brown has mighty things to do.

You can find this poem on, where you can also find more information about Newsome.

Join us tomorrow for the next Richmond Read-along!