Thank every bird whose feathers are in your wings. And each bee for every bit of wax.
Charles Houston — Scene 4

Now Let Me Fly Excerpt:
Hockessin, Delaware

Scene 9

[Hockessin, Delaware. MRS. SARAH BULAH carries shopping bags containing eggs and produce to the REV. MARTIN LUTHER KILSON.]

REV. KILSON

Why, Sarah, I thank you.

MRS. BULAH

I also got for you collard greens picked this mornin', green as grass. And turnips, crisp ones just like you like 'em.

REV. KILSON

Sarah, you do know how to plow God's earth into yieldin' up His gifts. Now what do I owe you for the fruits of your toil?

MRS. BULAH

Reverend Kilson, I don't take no money from a man of the cloth and you know it. They is God's gifts, as you say, and we are happy to share.

REV. KILSON

May God bless you and multiply your bounty. [SHE doesn't move] I look forward to hearing your voice praisin' the Lord come Sunday.

MRS. BULAH

Oh, yes, Reverend, I shall be there. [doesn't budge to leave]

REV. KILSON

Fred in good health?

MRS. BULAH

Oh, yes. Fred--Mr. Bulah--is a mighty strong man, sired eight children, you know, before I even came into his life. He is right fine, thank you. [does not budge]

REV. KILSON

And Shirley Barbara? What is she now, six years old?

MRS. BULAH

You got it on the button, Reverend. You were always good with numbers.

REV. KILSON

I see you drivin' her up the hill here to the school.

MRS. BULAH

It take me a whole hour to climb that steep hill, I can't let a 6-year-old child walk that, oh no.

REV. KILSON

I'm glad you've seen fit to stop all that letter writing to the governor and what all. I mean, nobody was gonna let Shirley Barbara on that white bus no matter how close it rode near your house.

MRS. BULAH

Thirteen feet, Reverend. Thirteen feet.

REV. KILSON

Did I ever tell you how much I admired what you and Mr. Bulah did takin' in that child?

MRS. BULAH

It's all because of you, Reverend. You're the one who preached it from the pulpit. You talked about that baby girl left abandoned over there in Wilmington. The way you talked about her, it broke my heart. You are such a gifted sermonizer, Reverend. The good Lord done give you the gift of gab.

REV. KILSON

You are flatterin' me, Sarah. I just said the facts. A 10-month-old baby left without milk or parents in that crowded city. But you were the ones who took her in and made her your own child.

MRS. BULAH

They made us put in a bathtub, y'know. Those authorities. And we did, 'cause it was the right thing to do. Helpless child can't fend for herself. Somebody's gotta step up to bat. You did the speakin' and we did the doin'. It's the power of your words, Reverend.

REV. KILSON

And you're still takin' good care of her, drivin' her on up the hill to Mrs. Dyson's class.

MRS. BULAH

That Mrs. Dyson, she's a good teacher. Sometime, if Shirley Barbara don't understand somethin', why, Mrs. Dyson she come to the house to teach it to her.

REV. KILSON

We're lucky to have her.

MRS. BULAH

And she got such a hard job, teachin' all them grades in one room like she do. She even takes in the little knee babies--3 and 4 years old. And it ain't like she can send some of them out to play ball like they do at the white school 'cause we ain't got no baseball diamond. And we ain't got those roses to smell like they got over at the white school neither. Just a bunch of dirt and a one-room school house with one itty toilet next to the closet with the kids' lunches.

REV. KILSON

Sarah . . .

MRS. BULAH

And pretty much nothin' but dirt. One room and dirt. That's what we got.

REV. KILSON

Mrs. Bulah, why are you here, bringing me twice as many eggs as usual and five times as many collard greens? Please, woman, state your purpose.

MRS. BULAH

Well, you were right about my letters gettin' me nowheres. I writ the Superintendent of Schools and the Congressman . . .

REV. KILSON

And the governor.

MRS. BULAH

Three times. They all say the same thing. The state don't transport little black children in no white school bus even if it pass right smack by your house.

REV. KILSON

As I've told you, Mrs. Bulah, we have to live in peace and harmony with our white neighbors. We have to be grateful we have such a fine teacher in Mrs. Dyson. We have to . . .

MRS. BULAH

So I went and talked to this here lawyer, Mr. Redding. He's the one that won the integration case over at the University. I figured if he could do that, he could do this.

REV. KILSON

Get Shirley Barbara a ride on the white bus? You bothered him with . . .

MRS. BULAH

I was mistaken about that, for sure.

REV. KILSON

I should say. Taking up that busy man's time with such insignificant matters.

MRS. BULAH

He wants me to go all the way for complete integration of our public schools here in Hockessin.

REV. KILSON

Pardon me?

MRS. BULAH

He's got a case in Wilmington too. We're goin' for the whole state of Delaware.

REV. KILSON

Mrs. Bulah!

MRS. BULAH

And the whole United States of America where we all supposed to be created equal. It's what Mrs. Dyson teach in that little run-down school tho' I don't see how she can make much of a case, lookin' at the white school sittin' acrost from the country club and ours . . .

REV. KILSON

The law of the land, Mrs. Bulah, is "Separate But Equal."

MRS. BULAH

I sees lots of separates but not much equals. We know that ain't workin'. Mr. Redding he say we got a fightin' chance and I just need to sign a letter which he was so kind to put together in the proper--he call it "legalese." Here, I brought it with me so you could sign it, too. And while you're at it, I was thinkin' maybe you could preach about it on Sunday like you did about Shirley Barbara and convince the others to sign on too 'cause there's strength in numbers . . .

REV. KILSON

Sarah! Stop! What in tarnation are you jabberin' about? Don't you have the good sense God gave you? What are you tryin' to do? Stir up trouble? What do you think is going to happen if people sign on to your letter?

MRS. BULAH

Mr. Redding is goin' to court and get us colored folks a piece of the action.

REV. KILSON

A piece of the action?

MRS. BULAH

Equal education for our children. Mrs. Dyson is the best there is, but she works too hard for too little and don't even have a decent classroom.

REV. KILSON

If you succeed, Mrs. Dyson will be out of a job. You think they're going to let a black woman teach white children? They will fire her black self as quick as that. [snaps finger] And what's going to happen to the parents who sign your letter? They will be accused of Communism and lose their jobs at the mill. Those children you're so fond of are going to starve if their daddies can't get no work! Have you talked to your neighbors? Have you asked them to sign your letter?

MRS. BULAH

Yes, Reverend, I have.

REV. KILSON

And?

MRS. BULAH

Otis say he don't got no kids so he don't care. Mirabelle say she don't have the time. Elsa don't want to attract no attention to herself. The Robinsons say they gonna wait and see how things come out. Martin Shoe would sign 'cept he can't sign his own name and his wife Marian won't sign it for him 'cause she's afraid the KKK'll git him. And the rest is likewise. So scared they don't even wanna buy eggs from me no more.

REV. KILSON

So why did you come to me if the entire congregation is against this?

MRS. BULAH

'Cause I heard of preachers speakin' out from the pulpit about the struggle. They is like Moses leadin' their people to the Promised Land. I thought about how you led us to Shirley Barbara and I thought if anybody could speak up a storm about what is right for the forgotten children it is you, Reverend Kilson. You gotta tell 'em it's worth the sacrifin' for the good of the future. They'd listen to you.

REV. KILSON

When I talked to the congregation about that abandoned little Negro girl, I believed every word I said. About takin' care of our own. About raisin' up our little children as a community.

MRS. BULAH

Its' the same thing.

REV. KILSON

No, Mrs. Bulah, it is not. I am in favor of segregation. I am a man of peace and I believe we must live alongside our neighbors in harmony. I have heard enough about agitating Negroes joining organizations . . .

MRS. BULAH

You mean the N double A . . .

REV. KILSON

Spells trouble. We will leave well enough alone.

MRS. BULAH

What you are sayin' is that our colored children, my little Shirley Barbara and the rest ain't good enough to go to that nice school with the roses? They don't deserve it? Good Lord made them of cheaper cloth or somethin'? Isn't that what we sayin' when we quiet about this? I ain't gonna say it no more. God did not make the Negro child out of a cheaper cloth. I will not say it. [beat] I'm leavin' now, Reverend. It is clear to me you have less pluck than the chickens I raise in my yard. [SHE moves to exit.]

REV. KILSON

Mrs. Bulah! I imagine you'll be wanting your eggs back.

MRS. BULAH

You're welcome to my greens and hens' eggs any time, Reverend. But I reckon from now on you'll be shoppin' in town, buyin' them white eggs.