Social Justice Poetry

protest poems

Jail Poem | A Social Justice Poem by Martin A. David

I saw flowers
In a cellar under the park
Sunlight poured through solid brick
As I sat with the cowards.
Fifty cowards who
Armed with courage
Faced the thousands.
Lines of armies
Lines of death
Marching through my city.

“Stop them!” we shouted.

They took us shouting
In our pride
At our tallest
And dragged us under the park.

We sang in the dark
And stood taller
And read poetry
And Frank read the Bible out loud
And we talked to the cops
About peace
And about soldiers in our streets
And thought about the thousands
Who were only following orders.
Following orders.
We chose to disobey.
They took us singing
They took us shouting
At our tallest
In the eyes of the world.

After a while
The singing makes the steel bend
And the cell expand.
We can see Chinatown
Through the bars
And a patch of sky
That blushes red
And fades
As a long day
Turns into night.

The soldiers
Ignoring Springtime
March across our city
Death on proud display
While somewhere else
The Spring
Is napalm-burnt away.

We challenge
Tramplers of flowers
We challenge soldiers
Who trample Springtime
And bodies
And life.
We challenge death.

New York, NY

Donald Trump Congratulates Himself on the Crucifixion of Jesus | A Social Justice Poem by Catherine B. Krause

I got up from the bench
I was sleeping on in DuPont Circle,
cleaned up, bought new makeup and new clothes,
grew breasts, endured attacks
by conspiracies of friends and strangers,
and walked back to the circle
where there were half-naked people,
corporate sponsors, and a bigoted preacher screaming,
“You abominations should be ashamed of yourselves!”
so I lifted my shirt up and shook my new breasts
as close to his face as I could through the wall of police officers
defending his free speech instead of our right to be safe from harassment,
mocked him and heckled him, ridiculed him, laughed at his beliefs,
and then, the next day, a bigot in another city
made me want to lie back down,
but I couldn’t, because I had things to do,
people to see, and only 24 hours.

Born out of Cause | A Social Justice Poem by JD DeHart

We are the splintering
of a dictator’s hammer,
the sign held high
in peaceful protest.
We are the line drawn
and the word No
when it needs to be
spoken, check and mate
along with check
and balance. We are
the ancient writ
and the common tongue.
We are Reason and Kindness
and Wisdom when all else
dissolves, pointing back
to history, indicating
the nature of our souls,
whispering: Learn, Grow,
and most of all Love.

This Year’s History of the 20th Century | A Social Justice Poem by Benjamin Nardolilli

Maybe it’s 1939 all over again, maybe
it’s 1913, or 1914, just look at the Spratly Islands
or the Balkans, or any old strait,
in today’s world, sea is the new landmass

Maybe it’s 1929, I’m refreshing my page
waiting for the next big dipper in the Dow Jones,
the UK wants to leave the EU and Capital
has to collapse over that, that’s what they tell me

Maybe it’s 1992, if Scotland leaves and Wales
insurrects while Belfast self-destructs,
hell, London might pop itself off the body
politic and leave the United Kingdom for New York

Somebody thinks it’s going to be 1917,
or 1989 with shades of memory for 1789,
people rising up and putting chains aside to smash,
with gulags and guillotines for those with cash

The popular theory is it’s going to be 1933,
those who oppose, are arming to make it 1945
but if we really want to stop it all from repeating,
we need to march like it’s 1964 for jobs and freedom

Visit Benjamin at

America Is Singing | A Social Justice Poem by Diane Woodward Dorff

“I hear America singing, the varied carols I hear,….
Each singing what belongs to him or her and to none else,…
Singing with open mouths their strong melodious songs.”
– Walt Whitman

Our nation is filled with people
who have learned how to sing,
who have discovered raw power in their lungs,
who have opened their mouths and heard amazing melodies,
who have moved their legs and discovered electric motion,
who have looked at one another and said “I know you still.”
And we will rise together.
And we will overcome.

Protest, Again | A Social Justice Poem by J.K. Durick

They gather so often – they must,
injustice, we find, plays many roles,
arrives in so many forms,

and they gather – faithfully
on City Hall steps, in front of
the senators’ offices –

marching, picketing,
the form remains the same,
the content changes

there’s a war, forever a war,
there are laws forced through,
enforced unfairly;

the protesters assemble
some older, veterans ready for more,
younger ones, just learning how

to show up, march, and speak up,
say injustice, say justice and try
to tell us the difference.