above: this sixth grader's poem was one of twenty-seven chosen by Kwame Alexander from nearly one thousand entries
A Gordon sixth grader had her words chosen by Kwame Alexander to be included in a poem commissioned by the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Civil Rights Memorial Center.
The poem was published online in April, and Alexander read it on NPR's Morning Edition on the morning after the Derek Chauvin verdict was announced.
The student's poem was one of twenty-seven used for the finished work. Nearly one thousand poems were submitted from across the nation.
above: Gordon's Class of 2021 at the Civil Rights Memorial Center in Montgomery while on the annual Civil Rights Trip to Georgia and Alabama. More on the Civil Rights Trip at www.gordonschool.org/civilrights
The student originally created the poem as an extra credit assignment for a Gordon class. Her words, included below, use water imagery that calls to mind the Civil Rights Memorial outside the SPLC in Montgomery.
Gordon’s Class of 2021 is scheduled to visit the SPLC and the Civil Rights Memorial Center in June as part of the twentieth annual Civil Rights Trip. The visits are part of an ongoing relationship between Gordon and the SPLC that has includes meetings with leaders in the organization like Scott McCoy, the Interim Deputy Legal Director for LGBTQ Rights & Special Litigation.
Gordon also has an ongoing, but less formal, relationship with poet Kwame Alexander. He has stayed in touch with Gordon since coming to campus as the twelfth annual Karla Harry Visiting Author, and Head of School Noni Thomas López continues to work with Alexander on projects like last summer's How to Raise and Teach Anti-Racist Kids event.
Here is the original poem by the Gordon sixth grader, with lines selected by Kwame Alexander for inclusion in the poem A Civil Community:
If you counted every person
Who has ever stood up for the BLM movement,
You could fill an ocean.
They carry that boat
That heads into the horizon
The moon guiding it
To a new dawn.