AAAS and BSU honor Martin Luther King Jr. with poetry slam

Tyesha Vinson/MJ
Tyesha Vinson/MJ

By YVONNE TOMEI, Staff Writer

University of Michigan-Dearborn’s African and African American Studies Department and the Black Student Union held their annual poetry reading on campus in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. on Wednesday January 22, 2014 in the College of Arts, Sciences, and Letters (CASL).

Aurora Harris, a professor on campus, and Gloria House, director of the African American Studies Program, conducted the event.

Forty to fifty students came in honor of Mr. King to listen and read poems about the African American struggle, civil rights, and human rights. Choice Ford, a Journalism major, was the first to read. Ford read a poem about an African American male pleading for God to help the human race evolve.

Professor Aurora Harris also read an inspiring poem written by June Jordan, an African American poet, activist, and teacher in California.

The poem is titled, “A Poem About My Rights,” and is about a black woman who claimed to be the wrong age, gender, identity, and race. She also read “Let American Be America Again” by Langston Hughes, which is a poem about peace, liberty, opportunity, equality, and letting it be the dreamers dream.

Tiffany Crawford, a junior on campus, was also in attendance and read an emotional poem by Jamie McKenzie, “The Life of MLK.” Tiffany spoke about Martin Luther King Jr., what he stood for, and his life goals until the day he was assassinated.

When I asked Tiffany Crawford why it was important that she read at the poetry reading, she said, “I thought it was important that not just the culture but the community remembered a man who sacrificed his life not only for African American freedom but also for so much more than that.”

The African and African American Studies Department is in efforts to have these kinds of events more often rather than once or twice a year.

Each poem was unique, descriptive, and some were even a little emotional. Some people believe Martin Luther King Jr. was a “trouble maker” or a “communist”, to others he was a hero. Either way he made an impact on America where people are still celebrating his life today.