Edmonton Students' Poem for Black History Month got Featured on CBC Radio

Black History Month honours the achievements and contributions of Black Canadians. Each February, Canada celebrates and acknowledges the impact of the Black community in our society. This year, students from John D. Bracco school celebrated what being Black meant to them. 

CBC radio approached the school to creatively contribute something for Black History Month. Maryama Addow, a Success Coach with The Family Centre and thirteen grade nine students jumped on the opportunity. The students were eager to produce a piece of work that was representative of them all. This led to the idea of creating a poem that they could all read together on the radio.

“They decided that they wanted to talk about both the positives and the negatives about what it is to be a Black person and specifically a Black student,” mentioned Maryama. Each student wrote a couple of lines that focused on their own personal experience. Some focused more on the Canadian experience, or important figures in Black history.

After, Maryama worked with three of the students to take the root of those ideas and put them into a poem. The students’ creative direction focused on the poem moving from a struggle to a success.

Maryama found this opportunity to be extremely monumental for the students. “It was really important for them to be on such a huge platform. Maybe those are things they never would have experienced before. So, they wanted to jump on the opportunity and be able to make an impact because they believe they are impactful people.” An impact is exactly what they had made.

The students received tremendous feedback once the poem aired on CBC. “We got an email from our superintendent actually just saying how moving of a piece it was and how he was really proud of the students. The school itself was very proud of it. When other people had heard it and to see how much of an impact it made on them I think made the students understand this is a really big thing that they were a part of.”

They even had the opportunity to read the poem to their class after it had made its debut. The students were emotional and extremely proud to share what they had created with their peers. Maryama was overwhelmed with how this heartfelt piece of work was received. “It was just very comforting to see them be celebrated authentically for who they are, for the mere fact that they are Black students and that this is their life-lived experience was such a beautiful thing to witness and be a part of.”

Below is the poem that was featured on CBC radio, written by Edmonton students: 

I was meant to feel inferior, not superior

I was meant to not appreciate my color but to praise others with lighter colors

Instead, I will be the one to inspire others

They weaponize my skin to infect the world with depravity

They tried to hold me down but I don’t believe in gravity

I will use my power to flip the script

No matter how many times they think I am unequipped

Black men are no longer accepting the things they cannot change but they are changing the things they cannot accept

We tried to find justice and peacefully protest but were met with disrespect

I dream of a future with different ethnicities achieving their goals without a thought of discrimination

Moving from limitations to congratulations

Being black has been made an obstacle in this world but we are successful and are more than the boxes people have put us in

I’m a lion hear me roar and see me win

My blackness is the sum of greatness and I will use my blackness to bring great things

I will be a role model and I’ll spread my wings

All I want is to see a world where black people are free to be what they want to be

Where they can grow and succeed

A world where black people can wake up and chase their dreams

And not be chased by police

Change will not come if we wait for others, we have to make our own

I want to be able to walk this country like it is my home

I want to be proud of my skin, whatever shade of brown

Greatness with no limitation is where I am bound

They tried to knock me down but we will rise from the ground

Stand up and put on our crown