Write to Ride: A Tribute to the Voices Who Drove Change
By Samantha Perkins – bluapple Poetry Programs Intern
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When we learn about the brave men and women who fought for change in our country, we become armed with the knowledge of the sacrifices that came before us. When we direct that knowledge and take the next step on the path our predecessors paved, we create change ourselves. Through action, we begin to understand that what starts with the silent first step inside a heart with a cause is marched forward by the resounding voices of those who continue to step together.
In the words of Martin Luther King Jr., “an individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.”
In celebration of Dr. King, bluapple’s C.O.R.E. lived those inspired words by coming together with our community on Monday, January 15. The young poets prepared for the day’s events by reading from Congressman John Lewis’ graphic novel, March, and assembling in-kind donations such as hygiene packs and fleece blankets, which they contributed to the three partnering organizations they visited on Monday. With the support of a Broward College MLK Day of Service grant, C.O.R.E. took to the streets in tribute to the Freedom Writers with a ride of their own, using public transportation between partnering sites.
Beginning with lunch and poetry performances at Women in Distress, our communities joined as active speakers and engaged listeners of voices empowering women, reminding us of our intrinsic worthiness, and speaking to human resiliency. These voices then carried on to Lippman Youth Shelter demanding for change, calling for respect, and offering validation to the residents and staff who shared their space with us — voices that created a chain reaction when a resident of Lippman stood up, encouraged by her peers and empowered by her own voice, and shared a poem for the first time.
Back on the bus, C.O.R.E. rode to the last stop, Broward Partnership, reflecting on the movement that allowed us unify as we did. Here our poets were met with hums and claps as they performed pieces about our shared histories in this country and the necessity of tolerance.
It was a day abound with inspiration, compassion, and connection beyond our individual selves. Our shared vision charged us to empower our communities and our students in the service of change and, in the hope of MLK and past activists, drive darkness out with light. As a community, we took real steps on the part of the path to change that was the future sight of past activists. As a community, we carried on the legacies of our predecessors and created our own: remembering how our destinies are tied to each other, refusing to be silent about the things that matter.
If you’re a poet or an educator who would like to start a poetry club on your campus, you can contact the Jason Taylor Foundation for access to the Omari Hardwick bluapple Poetry Network where a variety of programs and services are available, including a free poetry curriculum, professional development, teaching artist support, conferences, workshops and festivals, as well as the opportunity to connect with students and educators across South Florida who share your passion in this important and necessary art form. Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, call us at 954.424.0799 or follow us @jtfoundation99 or @bluapplepoetry.