Friday, July 25, 2008

What can we learn from young people?

Several years ago I used to host a "Civil Rights night" at my house. Teenagers would come over and we would watch documentaries like Eyes on the Prize and Chicano! (though Chicano! is no longer available, Teaching Tolerance will have a new Viva la Causa! video released in September). After watching the documentaries, we would have honest discussions about racism and struggle--then and now. I was always amazed at the depth of their thoughts and discussion.

As I was looking back through some old files, I found the following poems they wrote one night:


People sometimes call me names
like immigrant.
I always respond with
I don’t know why, how what
I just go off
I see you looking
but am here to stay
am not leaving
instead am living here
and I plan to stay.

By: Nazareth Vidal, 4/28/05


What did I do wrong?

As I sit in the house wondering why? Feeling like I’m bout 2 cry. I think 2 myself what did I do wrong? As I think about the past instead of the future and traumatizing memories floating around my head I wonder…what did I do wrong? I try 2 think of the good but not the bad but the more I think of it I wonder why? Is it me? Or you? And as I think so hard I wonder…what did I do wrong? As I sleep I dream of what the next day has in store 4 me but I try 2 get the harsh moments out of my brain and as I wake up confused I ask myself…what did I do wrong? Now things aren’t the same I think the positive and search 4 good things and now I don’t ask what I did wrong…I know what I did right and nothings wrong about that.

By: Twasanna Lewis


Black History

Strange people
Long journey
New land
Work for free
Emancipation of proclamation
Not knowing what to do
Trying to make a better life
Being oppressed
Different standards
Standing up for rights
Civil Rights Act of 65
Same opportunity
Society improving
Able to sit in a room with Janet and Rachel

By: Adrian Williams


Civil Rights
Let freedom ring…let freedom ring…thank God Almighty…let freedom ring
Black Dignity Struggle
Freedom is like a bird
Courage Endurance Faith
Strength of heart
Bravery Perseverance Sacrifice
Fighting for your rights
Equality Leaders Senators
We’re not going to give up
Violence Pain Suffering
. . . . .
. . . . .
. . . . .
Changing the law…changing minds

By: Rachel Embry, Twasanna Lewis, Adrian Williams, Albert Ross, Nazareth Vidal, Janet Morrison, Raphael Bienavides


The voices of young people are powerful.

They have so much to tell us if we choose to listen.

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