Poems of the Civil Rights Movement

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The Forerunners
From the Freedom Movement
Freedom School Poems
About the Freedom Movement

The Forerunners

W.E.B. Du Bois (1868-1963)
  The Song of the Smoke

Sterling Brown (1903-1989)
  Strong Men

Countee Cullen (1903-1946)
  Saturday's Child

Paul Lawrence Dunbar (1872-1906)
  We Wear the Mask
  The Colored Soldiers
  The Haunted Oak

Frances Ellen Watkins Harper (1825-1911)
  The Slave Auction
  The Slave Mother
  Bury Me in a Free Land
  Aunt Chloe's Politics

Robert Hayden
  Frederick Douglas

Langston Hughes (1902-1967)
  Children's Rhymes
  Comes the Colored Hour
  I, Too, Sing America
  Let America Be America Again
  What Happens to a Dream Deferred?
  Down Where I Am
  Backlash Blues
  I Dream a World

James Weldon Johnson (1871-1938)
  Fifty Years, 1863-1913
  Lift Every Voice and Sing

Claude McKay (1891-1948)
  White Houses
  If We Must Die

Sojourner Truth (1797-1883)
  Ain't I a Woman?

From the Freedom Movement

Chude Pam Allen (Pam Parker)
  To Be Twenty Again
  For Justice and For Love
  Wayne Yancey

Bob Beech
  Christmas came early this year

Strider "Arkansas" Benston
  Ode to Jimmy Lee
  May Your Hands Always be Busy

Joan Dresner Bernstein
  The Little Girl From Little Rock

Margaret Block
  Vote or Die
  If You Don't Vote, Don't Cry
  Justice and Jive (A History Poem of American Justice)
  For My Young Black Brothers

Nina Boal
  Meridian Jail

Julian Bond
  Look At That Girl
  I Too, Hear America Singing
  Poem about Connie Curry

Joyce Brown (16)
  The House of Liberty

Charlie Cobb, Furrows (60-page booklet)
  Furrows, spring '67
  L.A. the Order of Things, August '65
  Memory, summer '65
  Lie Still Unhappiness Hush, spring '65
  And If
  Motto! summer '65
  And Soft Sweet Breezes, spring '65
  Night Storm, Atlanta spring '65
  A Slave Song, May, '65
  Birmingham 1963, winter '66
  First Views of the Going, Brandon MS winter 1963
  Lowndes County Staff Sketches, May 3, 1966
  For Sammy Younge, winter '66
  #80 Haiku, Tougaloo '66
  Mobile 1964, March '66
  In the Furrows of the World
  Mekonsippi #1
  To Vietnam, Hanoi April 1967
  Ain't That a Groove! Atlanta

Peter Coppelman
  Civil Rights Summer
  Civil Rights March

Fatima Cortez-Todd
  To Rest Safe and be Fed

Edward English (Selma AL student)
  This is Africa
  This is My Gloria
  Philadelphia is Freedom
  Tent City
  This is Patience

Charles Fager
  On Meeting Mrs. Septima Poinsette Clark

Jerry Farber
  The Liberals' Song

Sam Friedman
  Two-Two-Nineteen Sixty

Betty Gamble
  A Mother's Plea

LuLu Westbrook Griffin
  Americus, Georgia in Sixty Three
  Memories of The Stockade
  Po' Man
  Move On
  Justice Let it Stand
  Once Upon a Time
  Martin L. King & Elvis, The "KING" Of ROCK
  Struttin' Right Up
  Discrimination Among Coloreds/Blacks the Shade of Skin Tone

Vincent Harding
  Light in the Asphalt Jungle

Bruce Hartford
  Mississippi Voter Rally
  Grenada March #107

Casey Hayden
  On Organizing

Dorie Ladner
  Band of Brothers

Gloria Larry House
  Selma, 1965

Will Inman
  A Mirror to the South (for Emmett Louis Till)

Abdul Aziz Khaalis (Jan Leighton Triggs)
  Mississippi Street Song in Hinds County
  Parchman Cell
  A Song for Charlie
  1961 Jackson Safe House

Steve McNichols
  A Moment of Silence

Tamam Tracy Moncur (Tracy Sims)
  Will the Real America Please Stand!
  Hey America "Put Some Respect on God's Name!"
  This Little Light of Mine

Bob Moses
  Deep Black 'Sippi Willie

Daphne Muse
  Harriet, Her Nelson, and the North Star Kiss

Gregory Orr
  The Demonstration
  Solitary Confinement

Zellie Rainey Orr
  We Are One

Peggy Trotter Dammond Preacely
  There Are Those Like John (an ode to John Lewis)
  She. Her. Hers. (homage to Ruth Bader Ginsberg)
  Bob Moses... One of Us
  The Vote
  Sherrod! Our spirit leader

Bernice Johnson Reagon
  Ella's Song

Dona Richards
  Apology to Africa, undated.

Stephen Rose
  The Stones Cried Out

Joseph Ruggerio
  Dark is the Night

Sue [Lorenzi] Sojourner
  fannie lou...the woman who

Jane Stembridge
  Mrs. Hamer
  The Children
  The Flute
  About Jesus

Maria Varela
  Casey in New York (late 1970's)

Rita Walker
  Poem by Rita Walker

Molly Lynn Watt
  Dr. King Looked Out
  Civil Rights Update
  Ballad of Jimmie Lee Jackson
  Race Riff
  Fayette County Tennessee
  Outside Agitator N*****-Lover Commie
  Tennessee Road Signs 1963
  Which Side Are You On?
  Instructions at Rev. Reeb's Home (1965)
  Billie Holiday Sings "Strange Fruit" (1958)
  Defense Lawyer

Annette Jones White
  Mass Meeting in Albany, Georgia
  To Bernice Reagon (Revisited)
  Looking Glass Self
  The Patio Fishio
  On Voting
  SNCC and the Porches of Southwest Georgia
  SNCC Reunion

Jim Williams
  What Then?
  A Keen for Medgar

Robert F. Williams
  Pusher Man

Rob Wood

Bob Zellner
  To Vincent and Rosemarie Harding

Freedom School Poems

Poems written by Freedom School students, Mississippi, 1964.
I am Mississippi Fed, Ida Ruth Griffin
The House of Liberty, Joyce Brown
Lonely, Wilma Byas
Fight on Little Children, Edith Moore
Our Largest and Smallest Cities, Nettie Rhodes
Who Am I?, Sandra Jo-Ann 0.
A Leader, Roosevelt Redmond
Isn't It Awful?, Edith Moore
A Negro Condition, Lillie Mae Powell
Why Do They Hate Us? What Has the Negro Done?, Florence Seymour
What Does Freedom Mean? Madeline McHugh
Because I'm Black, Ruth Phillips
I am a Negro, Rosalyn Waterhouse
Three Strikes to Freedom, Mary Zanders
Freedom in Mississippi, David Marsh
Why Did I My Don'ts, Sandra Ann Harris
Segregation Will Not Be Here Long, Allan Goodner
Don't Give A Subject, Shirley Ballard
Once I Wanted to Fill the Earth With Laughter, Lynda
Time, Shirley Ballard
Mr. Turnbow, Lorenzo Wesley
Nov. 22, 1963, Arelya J. Mitchell
Other Children, Airvester Bowman
Roads, Airvester Bowman
Life, People, the Mysteries of Time, Charlie Brown
The Wind, Cora Sanders
Spring, William Smith
Poem, M.C. Perry
Who What Dropped When?
Mine, Alice Jackson
Changing The American Stage, Elnora Fondren
The Voice of Freedom, Robert Lee
Say Freedom!, Mitchell M

About the Movement

Nancy Levi Arnez
  Why Don't You Love Us?
  To Be Black in America
  Keep Pushing
  A Brown Child's Prayer
  Stood Up
  Laid Off Blues
  Poverty Blues
  What is a Negro?

Lynne Barnes
  Sestina for the South

June Brindel
  The Road From Selma

Nikki Giovanni
  Rosa Parks

Angela Jackson
  Miz Rosa Rides the Bus

June Jordan
  Jim Crow: The Sequel
  1977: Poem for Mrs. Fannie Lou Hamer
  In Memoriam: Martin Luther King, Jr.

Mike Kellin
  Hartman Turnbow

Yusef Komunyakaa
  Knights of the White Camellia & Deacons of Defense

Audre Lorde

Naomi Long Madgett
  Alabama Centennial

C. Liegh McInnis
  Bob Moses: Gardener of Minds
  For Hollis Watkins (Slight Return)
  Mississippi Courage: A Lighthouse to the World
  For Freedom Summer
  The Bridge (For Medgar at the Crossroads)
  Put the Ghosts to Rest (for Rainey Pool)

Eve Merriam (1916-1992)
Poems About Race & Jim Crow
    Yesterday's Rider
  Jim Crow
  The Liberal Candidate From Middleroad Speaks:
  White Sister
  Money Mississippi (Emmett Till)
  Tuscaloosa Road (Autherine Lucy)
Poems About the Montgomery Bus Boycott
  Bus Boycott
  Montgomery Alabama
  Tomorrow's Footsteps
  Sunrise Morning
  The Elderly Walking Woman

Beatrice M. Murphy (1908-1992)
  To Any Negro Youth
  Pledge of Allegiance
  Even Among Thieves
  We Are Not Alone
  Deadlines For Miracles
  Negro Choir

Sarah R.
  Sarah R. on G's 80th

F. Farley Ragland
  Sit Down, Chillun!

Richard C. Raymond
  Dixie Definitions

Dudley Randall (1914-2000)
  Ballad of Birmingham
  Booker T. and W.E.B.

Afaa Michael Weaver
  The Little Rock 9

Jacqueline Woodson
  February 12, 1963

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