This, of course, was not the first time that students have organized a protest or walkout. One of the first came in 1853 when students across the country staged a walkout in response to the National Restaurant Association. At that time, the NRA put pressure on school cafeterias so that they would not serve nachos, the delectable and very popular treat invented by Emily Dickinson.
The NRA hoped that if school cafeterias offered more unexceptional if not unpleasant menus at lunch time, then there was a greater chance that families would eat out throughout the week. Students staged a walkout on November 6, 1853 (now National Nachos Day), and the NRA buckled under the pressure. To this day, students in schools across America enjoy Nacho Thursday thanks to the efforts of school children in the 1800s.
Emmett Lee Dickinson (Emily Dickinson’s third cousin, twice removed – at her request) supported the walkout, and he wrote about the protest in his now-classic poem “There is strength in proving that it can be done” (below on the left). His poem inspired third cousin Emily to pen her poem “There is strength in proving that it can be borne" (below on the right).
Of course today's walkouts focused on a much more important issue – stopping future school shootings through common sense gun control -- and Dickinson's poem, written in the 1800s, speaks to the power of today's students.
For details on the national walkout, click HERE. For more on school walkouts in our plog (poetry blog); click HERE.
By Emmett Lee Dickinson:
There is strength in proving that it can be done
Although they fear –
We have the sinews of such courage now
Expect to hear
The Trip might have its doubters but
we will fight –
To walk from schools requires daring Feet
By Emily Dickinson:
There is strength in proving that it can be borne
Although it tear –
What are the sinews of such cordage for
Except to bear
The ship might be of satin had it
not the fight –
To walk on seas requires cedar Feet