Thursday, February 25, 2010

Won't You Celebrate With Me

February has been very busy, but we've made sure to include some activities for African American History Month. Our village meetings have provided an in-depth study of slavery in America. Although it is the worst part of our nation's history, it still needs to be examined. Mrs. Drain has led us through several activities that focus on how African Americans triumphed over this terrible thing.

In our class this week, I've chosen some poems by African American poets that are pretty powerful. Like I told the students today, we've read numerous poems by black poets this year, but the ones I chose this week uniquely reflect the experiences of African Americans.

Yesterday, we read "Frederick Douglass" by Robert Hayden, a poem about the renown abolitionist. You can read the poem here but I also encourage you to check out this video of a high school student reading the poem at the finals of the national Poetry Out Loud competition:

Today, we read "won't you celebrate by me" by Lucille Clifton. Ms. Clifton recently passed away and I thought sharing this poem was a good way to honor her contributions to the world of poetry:

won't you celebrate with me


won't you celebrate with me
what i have shaped into
a kind of life? i had no model.
born in babylon
both nonwhite and woman
what did i see to be except myself?

Tomorrow, we'll be reading "I, Too" by perhaps my all-time favorite poet, Langston Hughes.
This fairly short poem makes a powerful statement about overcoming the degradation of
segregation in the early 20th century.

I, Too


I, too, sing America.

I am the darker brother.
They send me to eat in the kitchen
When company comes,
But I laugh,
And eat well,
And grow strong.

I hope you're able to take some time out of your day to enjoy these poems. We've done so much with poetry this year and the children continue to impress me with their insight and with their writing skills.

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