Must-read poems by local youths honoring Black History

Local elementary through high school students from InsideOut write moving poetry

InsideOut and Local 4 Celebrate Young Voices

In order to celebrate the voices of young local students during Black History Month, Local 4 is working with InsideOut Literary Arts, an organization that helps Detroit’s youth build their literary and academic skills through creative writing.

Below you can read some of the poems written by these local students of various ages in honor of Black History. We’re publishing more throughout the month, so make sure to read them all.

Blackness in America

By Symone (InsideOut Citywide Poets Student)


I wrote my first poem about

Blackness in America.

A poem about

Black death

and where it comes from.

I let the ink spill

and it stained paper like blood

does pavement.

I flinched

when the words appeared.

When my distress began to mimic that

of the first real dead man I ever saw on TV.

I asked the page how many more of these I’ll write.

She said,

one for each Black body that lies

across the pavement.

She said,

you will never stop writing.

Your fingers will cramp up

every time you watch the news,

the videos will

break you down into nothing.

You will feel your mouth go numb

every time you have to say their names.

You will want to protect every Black body,

but you only have your own.

And you are too scared to lose it.

My notebook should not bleed like this.

But she is right.

I am scared to lose this body.

So I will write until I stop shaking.

I will never stop shaking.

Black Hero

By Demond (InsideOut High School Student)

I’m going to break as many cultural

barriers out there that I can.

I want to be as versatile in my career

as I can be in sports.

I want to be the definition of successful.

When black minorities look at me, I want

them to look up to me.

I want to be every little black boy’s and

girl’s idol, role model, hero.

I want kids to see me as hope.

I want to be the symbol of hope.

I want to be a black hero.

My name is Angel

By Angel (InsideOut Middle School Student)

My name is Angel. I am a black poet

who has death wished upon me too.

I have been silent after each shooting.

I have an arm against my throat.

My words have been drowned out

by the shouting crowd. My name is Trayvon

My name is Michael. My name is murdered,

but my blackness is the headline.

I have been silent for too long. Justice

is my enemy. They have the right

and the power to kill. Covered by

the badge and flashing lights.

They all remain silent, just doing

their job..

A Dream Undreamed —after Langston Hughes

by Ashley (InsideOut Elementary Student)

I think that when a dream is undreamed

it floats away like a loose balloon,

it leaves like it never existed.

It is forgotten and sinks to the bottom

of the brain turning gray

with no meaning.

It no longer can be restored

like when you drop food

it can no longer be eaten.

It goes with all the other forgotten dreams

while the ones you remember

stay at the top of the brain

full of color and joy.

To read more of these poems, go to our Inside Out page!

About InsideOut

Our Mission: to inspire students to think broadly, create bravely, and share their voices with the wider world.

Since 1995, InsideOut Literary Arts has helped over 65,000 of Detroit’s youth build their literary and academic skills through creative writing.

With initial seed funding from Bob Shaye and the Four Friends Foundation, InsideOut was founded in 1995 by former Detroit Public School teacher Dr. Terry Blackhawk. The name InsideOut was chosen by Dr. Blackhawk’s students.

As Detroit’s largest and oldest literary non-profit, InsideOut now serves more than 100 classrooms and community sites annually. Our professional writers continue to help students experiment with words and learn that each unique voice matters – that there is power in “bringing the inside out.”

Learn more about InsideOut here.