Join This Community Poem With Kwame Alexander

Our friends at the Civil Rights Memorial Center want to hear from your students this month!

In the Spring 2021 issue of our magazine, educator Gerardo Muñoz named one of the biggest challenges he and other educators have faced this school year: connecting with the “largely muted and hidden student community” awaiting them each day.

Insisting on the value of connecting despite the obstacles imposed by COVID, Muñoz wrote that “now, more than ever, we need authentic spaces in which students can consider their humanity—and community.”

We know he’s not alone in recognizing that need. And as the pandemic drags on into spring, we know that, for many students, opportunities for connection can feel few and far between.

That’s one reason why we’re so excited to share a new project from our colleagues at the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Civil Rights Memorial Center, a project that will connect authors of all ages from across the United States.

Here’s how they describe it:

The Civil Rights Memorial Center is partnering with bestselling author Kwame Alexander and the community to produce ‘A Community Poem,’ a new exhibit that will be featured inside the museum when it reopens later this year. 

Members of the community are invited to submit an original poem around the themes of racial justice and human rights. Alexander will select lines from multiple submissions and combine them into one single community poem. The final poem, representing the combined work of multiple contributors across the United States, will be displayed on a digital screen in the final gallery of the Civil Rights Memorial Center.

We’re particularly excited that the center is encouraging K-12 students to submit inspirational or informative poems. They explain that submissions “should either honor or recognize the civil rights movement—past or present; encourage people to think about social injustices; document current civil and human rights issues; envision a better future for our country; or some combination of each.”

While not every submission will be included in the final poem, participating in this project offers students the opportunity to join a national community of writers thinking deeply about the history—and the future—of the fight for civil rights in the United States.

The deadline is March 10, 2021!

Learn more about the community poem—and about the Civil Rights Memorial Center—by reviewing the submission guidelines here. We can’t wait to hear what your students have to say!

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