September 28, 2023

We Real Cool

At heart, I am a writer. I always have been, and I always will be. Every year we celebrate Black History Month, and we pay tribute to the culture and individuals that have come before us. One person I would like to celebrate is Gwendolyn Brooks, who is one of my favorite writers. She was a great poet and was the first African American to win the Pulitzer Prize, which is a great honor.  She was also a “poetry consultant” to the Library of Congress, the first African American to hold that position.

She wrote many poems and some of her work reflected the Civil Rights Movement. One of my favorite poems by Brooks is called “We Real Cool.” The poem isn’t long, but it has a powerful theme that revolves around rebellion, authority, taking risk, and living life to the fullest. The poem is about a group of teenagers who skip school, stay out late, get in trouble, and live fast. The poem was written in 1959 during the Civil Rights Movement, an important time for Blacks when rights and freedom were at stake.

What I love about the poem is the structure, the rhyme scheme, the length, and what it represents. It isn’t a long poem, but what it represents is so powerful. During the Civil Rights movement, Black people had to rebel to make and demand change. Like the rebellious teenagers, Black people during the Civil Rights Movement had to defy authority, rules, and ridiculous laws that stripped them the rights they deserved. They knew it came at a cost, but that cost was worth it. The poem ends with “We die soon.” Even though they knew death could come for them, they were okay with death because of what they would gain. Gwendolyn Brooks is just one of the many phenomenal writers who brought change through her writing. She used her writing to speak up about the events that we as a race were facing. Her writing was relevant then and decades forward, it still has a powerful meaning and message.

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