Maya Angelou, “Still I Rise” from And Still I Rise: A book of Poems. (1996) Random House, Inc.
Language has long been used throughout the ages as a vehicle to hold strong to hope and strive for justice through the spoken and written word. With incredible power to create new meaning for people, poetry can positively address social justice issues in our schools. Indeed, poetry reflects the values and beliefs that permeate our culture.
Poetry is a great equalizer, offering myriad opportunities for students in grades K-12 to speak about their world through speaking, reading, and writing. Poetry represents many perspectives, disrupting the mundane and the “this-is-the-way-it-has-always-been way of thinking, focusing on developing a language of hope and of change.
In the spirit of using poetry as a vehicle to ask questions and get people thinking, I used a poem by D, H. Lawrence titled The White Horse as my inspiration and mentor text to write this poem.
The Sounds of Social Justice
What sound does social justice make?
A fierce wind rolling over the tall grasses of the plains
The shhush-whish of ocean waves pulling us into a rhythm that
cannot be denied
Each desert evening that brings a constant change
The sounds of dust-patterned glass cracked by years of indifference
Thunders of an avalanche cascading down an unnamed mountain
The creak of boots in a blue night frosted with snow and moonlight
Scattering flaps of birds’ wings whose shadows paint the
The almost imperceptible burn of the ever-changing sunlight
The steady march of footsteps on roads that lead to Washington, D.C.
Words gently but firmly speaking a simple truth of a true heart
Teardrops splash pavements, prayers whispered softly, hands
clasped in unison
Social justice – humanity connecting, raising awareness, changing the world