Black Poets Speak Out


Jericho Brown (2010) from the Furiou Flower photo archives

Above: Jericho Brown (2010), from the Furious Flower photo archives


A new tumblr site, Blackpoetsspeakout, is rapidly gathering momentum and garnering public attention from around the nation and internationally. Spearheaded by Cave Canem fellows Jericho Brown, Mahogany Browne, Jonterri Gadson, Amanda Johnston and Sherina Rodriguez-Sharpe, the site features dozens of videos of black poets reading in response to the shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri on August 9, 2014, and the grand jury’s decision on November 24 not to indict Darren Wilson, the police officer who fired the lethal bullets.

According to organizer Mahogany Browne, the project’s purpose is “to centralize in one space hundreds of poems, songs, prayers and testimonies speaking on behalf of black mothers, black fathers, black brothers and sisters—thousands of voices insisting on justice. BlackPoetsSpeakOut videos are a collective outcry for our black lives.”

Every poetry video is prefaced by the text, “I am a black poet who will not remain silent while this nation murders black people. I have a right to be angry.” In addition to showcasing contemporary poets’ original work, videos present poems by such iconic writers as Gwendolyn Brooks, Lucille Clifton, Toi Derricotte, Nikki Giovanni, Langston Hughes, June Jordan, Audre Lourde, Harryette Mullen and Ed Roberson, among others.

The site also announces thematic community readings delivered in various locations, to date:

  • ReCreative Spaces, 1613 Rhode Island Avenue NE, Washington, DC, on December 6, 3 pm
  • Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, NY, on December 11, 6 pm
  • Newcastle City Library, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, UK, on December 22, 6:30 pm

For guidelines on posting videos, go to To inquire about hosting a BlackPoetsSpeakOut reading, email

Related sites of interest include #‎blacklivesmatter and the College Language Association Journal’s call for submission to its special issue,, “Hands Up. Don't Shoot!: Critical and Creative Responses to the Violence Toward Black Bodies in the 21st Century.”

This story courtesy Cave Canem Foundation, Inc.

Published: Thursday, December 4, 2014

Last Updated: Tuesday, January 9, 2018

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