Social Justice Poetry

slavery poems

Memories | A Social Justice Poem by Gil Hoy

Their homes, cone-shaped wooden
poles covered with buffalo hides.
Set up to break down quickly
to move to a safer place.

She sits inside of one of them,
adorning her dresses, her family’s
shirts, with beads and quills.
Watches over her children, skins
cuts and cooks the buffalo meat, pounds
clothes clean with smooth wet river rocks.

When she sees the blue cavalry coming,
she starts to run again.
Is that what made America great,
back then?

African families working hard
on hot cotton farms. Sunrise to sunset,
six days a week. Monotony broken only
by their daily beatings, by their singing
of sad soulful songs. Like factories in fields,
dependent solely upon the demands
of cotton and cloth.

You could buy a man for a song, back then.
Is that what made America great,
once again?

There are swastikas in our schools today,
gay pride flags being burned. Whitelash.
While those in government spew anti-Muslim
venom, rant of white power.
As the old new man at the top
solemnly swears, he’ll make America
great again.

They say the full moon was bigger and brighter
last year than it’s been in 69 years.
Than it’s been since Jackie Robinson
played his first big league baseball game.

Emancipation | A Social Justice Poem by Langley Shazor

To whom it may concern
I tender my resignation
I will no longer fetch
For though lashings
Have lessened canines
There is still bite
In this old dog
My shoes are hard
And I shall dance for you
No longer
Whispers in the dark
Will gain decibels in the light
Your failed attempts
To cut my tongue
Has only removed
All the “yessahs” and “massuhs” from my vocabulary
My fate is my own
Stained posts
Bearing fathers, sons, daughters, mothers, sisters, brothers
On the verge of collapse
From the weight of injustice
Rope-worn limbs buckle
As I make my last knot
And exit these killing fields

Tears of My Ancestors | A Social Justice Poem by James Gregory Paul Sr.

a tear fell that day
from the coast of ivory
for the souls of juillet, jimi,
babet and bambara

and landed in washington dc

a tear fell that day
from a plantation in mississippi
for jude, whipped and smoked
cealy, leashed and yoked
phoebe, tarred and feathered
jupiter, penned and tortured

and landed in washington dc

a tear fell that day
from a tree in lynchburg
an unmarked grave in baton rouge
a baptist church in alabama
a bloody balcony in tennessee

and landed in washington dc

a tear fell that day
from the joy of my ancestors
for barack hussein obama

the first black president of the u.s.a.

Visit James at

This poem is featured in my recently published book – Kneeling for Justice – and independently reviewed at

Nooning Tree Estates | A Social Justice Poem by Keith Hoerner

$10,000 down
Gets you in
Your choice of
Ranch or two-story
In prestigious Nooning Tree

“Is there one, a Nooning Tree?”
“Of course,” the saleslady answers
Loose strands of hair catching
The corner of her mouth
Like a lie

Tempered by talk of tradition
She motions; I follow
Slipping on the deceptively
Green sod
Outside her display home

She points, arm outstretched
Fingers fanning
In a ta-da moment
“There …
The Nooning Tree”

Under that very shade (weather permitting)
Noon meals were served
To plantation workers
Every day

Quaint, now, isn’t it?”

Yes, if
It were true

If *only* it were *true*
For a few of us
Still know fact from fiction
About this suburbanized
183-year-old black walnut

Its gnarled branches

Midday laughter filtered
Through this centurion’s autumnal rush
Frenetic excitement hung thick in the air
Frozen families, slack-jawed gawkers, jeering landlords *gathered*

On what is now
Lot 241 (backing to woods)
Where a barbarian’s buffet
Was laid

Blood-shot eyes
Subtle smells of rope-
Burned flesh
Slaves *lynched* on the strike of *noon*

On a *tree*
S  t  r  e  t  c  h  o  f  L  a  n  d

Slave Master | A Social Justice Poem by Ndifreke George

He never repeats a word
Yet the deaf must hear,
Cruelty and violence
Are his best attributes.
My face is well-coloured
By his supposed romantic touches
His roaring voice
Scares me out of my rat hole
And I stand to salute
Every whistle and call
Yet when he speaks again, Mr. Dandy,
The same slave remains the succor
The bin he dumps and spills alkaline milk into
More often than pleasantries,
Comes the reply, “Copy that”!
Just because I answer to his name.