Exploring Citizenship and Racial Justice through African American Poetry

Gia Wright, English, Rocky River High

Curriculum Unit (PDF)


As I embark on my sixth year at Rocky River High School, I have become well acquainted with the climate of the upperclassmen at Rocky River High School. Some students plan to follow the path of academia after high school, but a number of students, whether they have a plan or not, really struggle to understand how their life can contribute to their communities and the world. The difficulty with understanding their roles in the world that surrounds them seems to come from various factors including a need to become more self-aware and to connect to American History. Additionally, I have also observed that students desire this knowledge, but they do not learn how to initiate the pathway for realization that they can use towards their goals. Therefore, they lack the ability to be attentive about the effects of their actions as well as how this country’s foundation has affected them. In this unit, I plan to bring attention to some of the issues that young scholars have within themselves because of racial injustices and other forms of discrimination and to help them connect with authors that have shared their experiences. Additionally, students will express their perspectives on their communities while also exploring the lives of African American writers who have embarked on a similar journey. Students will explore poetry by a group of diverse writers, with a concentration on Black writers, in order to learn how writers have started on the path of self-awareness while also testifying about the environments within which they commit to being a citizen.