Poems about #BlackLivesMatter

#BlackLivesMatter was popularized in July 2013 when an African-American 17-year-old Trayvon Martin was fatally shot in Sanford, Florida by George Zimmerman. Later, it became the name of a decentralized political and social movement protesting against the brutality and violence against black people.

Since the beginning of the Black Lives Matter movement, it has been depicted in songs, literature, film, television, and the visual arts. The following poems feature the events of brutality against the black people and how their voices are muted.

A Brave and Startling Truth by Maya Angelou

‘A Brave and Startling Truth’ by Maya Angelou is a commonly quoted poem about humanity’s future. The poet alludes to the “truth” that humanity will arrive at when “we” realize we are the one true wonder of the world. 

A Brave and Startling Truth by Maya Angelou Visual Representation

Grandfather by Michael S. Harper

‘Grandfather’ by Michael S. Harper describes the treatment Harper’s grandfather endured and alludes to racism within the United States more generally. 

Grandfather by Michael S. Harper Visual Representation

Incident by Countee Cullen

‘Incident’ by Countee Cullen describes a terrible incident from the poet’s youth that occurred when he was happily visiting Baltimore. 

Incident by Countee Cullen Visual Representation

Dream Variations by Langston Hughes

‘Dream Variations’ by Langston Hughes details two slightly different dreams a Black speaker has as he is confronted with the “white day.”

Dream Variations by Langston Hughes Visual Representation

As I Grew Older by Langston Hughes

‘As I Grew Older’ by Langston Hughes is about breaking through the “wall” that racism constructs. The speaker, a Black man from the African American community, spends the poem discussing the light of forgotten dreams he’s newly determined to attain.

As I Grew Older by Langston Hughes Visual Representation

To a Dark Girl by Gwendolyn Bennett

‘To a Dark Girl’ by Gwendolyn Bennett is a moving and inspiring poem that seeks to uplift Black girls and women and remind them of their beauty and strength. 

To a Dark Girl by Gwendolyn Bennett Visual Representation

Fragment by Angelina Weld Grimké

‘Fragment’ by Angelina Weld Grimké is a short and powerful poem in which a woman discusses, in simple terms, who she is and how she toils on a day-to-day basis.

Fragment by Angelina Weld Grimké Visual Representation

Who Said It Was Simple by Audre Lorde

‘Who Said It Was Simple’ by Audre Lorde is a powerful poem about the inequalities in various civil rights movements during the poet’s lifetime.

Who Said It Was Simple by Audre Lorde Visual Representation

Reapers by Jean Toomer

‘Reapers’ by Jean Toomer is a thoughtful poem about oppression. It is depicted through a very poetic and memorable metaphor depicting field workers and a mower.

Reapers by Jean Toomer Visual Representation

November Cotton Flower by Jean Toomer

‘November Cotton Flower’ by Jean Toomer is a powerful extended metaphor for the lives of Black men, women, and children in the southern United States. It alludes to slavery and the hope that the Civil Rights Movement presented. 

November Cotton Flower by Jean Toomer Visual Representation

A Small Needful Fact by Ross Gay

‘A Small Needful Fact’ by Ross Gay is a powerful poem that presents an image of hope and beauty after a loss. The poem addresses the legacy of Eric Garner and how one might still find his presence in the world. 

A Small Needful Fact by Ross Gay Visual Representation

Atlantic City Waiter by Countee Cullen

‘Atlantic City Waiter’ by Countee Cullen is a deeply thoughtful poem. In it, Cullen describes the actions, strength, and pride of an Atlantic City waiter.

atlantic city waiter by countee cullen

Catch the Fire by Sonia Sanchez

‘Catch the Fire’ by Sonia Sanchez is a thoughtful and inspiring poem. In it, the poet encourages readers to catch their fire and use their passion to fuel their lives.

Catch the Fire by Sonia Sanchez Visual Representation

The Tradition by Jericho Brown

The Tradition is the titular poem from Pulitzer Prize winner Jericho Brown’s poetry collection. It brings to light the maltreatment of African Americans in the present US, while relating it to the past.

The Tradition Poem Visual Representation

Harriet Tubman by Eloise Greenfield

‘Harriet Tubman’ by Eloise Greenfield is a moving and simple piece of poetry about Tubman’s life. The poet explores her bravery and determination in the face of impossible odds.

Harriet Tubman by Eloise Greenfield Visual Representation

Harlem Hopscotch by Maya Angelou

‘Harlem Hopscotch’ by Maya Angelou is a thoughtful poem. It explores what it’s like to grow up Black in Harlem, New York.

The Harlem Dancer by Claude McKay

‘The Harlem Dancer’ by Claude McKay is a thoughtful poem about a dancer’s inner life. It speaks on the duality of what people see and what people experience.

The harlem dancer by claude mckay

Harlem Shadows by Claude McKay

‘Harlem Shadows’ by Claude McKay memorably addresses the lives of Black sex workers in Harlem. The poet describes their experience while also acknowledging their strength.

harlem shadows by claude mckay

10 Incredible Poems of the Black Lives Matter Movement

On this list, readers will find ten incredible poems inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement. Some celebrate Black history, identity, and love while others mourn the loss of countless men and women, like Michael Brown and Eric Garner.

Incredible Poems of the Black Lives Matter Movement Visual Representation

I, Too, Sing America by Langston Hughes

Langston Hughes’ poem ‘I, Too, Sing America’ is an incredibly personal poem Hughes wrote, highlighting American Society and a Black man’s experience in it.

I, Too, Sing America by Langston Hughes Visual Representation

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