Edison’s First Virtual Black History Month Poetry Slam

A virtual Poetry Slam was held in honor of Black History Month with participants creating or reading all types of poetry. 

The event was streamed on February 26th. It was organized by Mr. Ollivierre with the support of Ms. Nelson, Ms. Vargas, Mr. Omeokwe, Mr. Kalloo, and Ms. Almonte. 

The Poetry Slam included both students and faculty reciting their own poems or poems by well known black poets such as Maya Angelou, Langston Hughes, and James Baldwin. Students from different backgrounds and different ages came together helping make this event come to life with their dedication and courage. 

“I was hopeful to have an event that would allow our school community to connect with one another,” said Walter Ollivierre. “In this Remote Learning environment, everyone feels so disconnected from society. This event was a chance to be unified, display student talent and honor Black History.” 

One participant, Oluwatoyosi Fowowe, wrote a particularly hard hitting poem highlighting the struggles of being a young black woman with her poem “Tales of a Dark Skin Girl.”

“I decided to participate in the event because I saw it as an opportunity for me to speak up and talk about a prevalent issue in our society,” said Fowowe. “Colorism is often overlooked and dismissed, especially in the black community but it negatively impacts a lot of people and should be talked about more.” 

Another stand out poem was from Ms.Vargas, titled “Color Blind,”, which talked about the issues of being colorblind and what it means to be an ally. 

“I wanted the video to convey the power of humility, truth and allyship,” said Melissa Vargas. “I was in the middle of a Saturday morning Restorative Practices virtual training when the topic of educators saying they ‘do not see color when they look at their students’ came up. As a counselor, I am not usually in the classroom. Therefore, while the teachers processed the dismissive and damaging truth of the “colorblind method” some teachers believe in and utilize with their students, I muted myself on Zoom and unmuted myself on paper. That is how Colorblind was born.”

The Poetry Slam was a success with many of the students stating that they felt proud of themselves for being able to participate and that they achieved something. This event had an impact on not just the participants who shared their poems, but  to the viewers who watched at home as well.  

“I was very moved by the power of words, imagery, and passion our students exhibited with their words and expressions,” said COSA Erica Dellabonta. “I asked that my family watch with me to share this experience and was awed by the thoughtfulness and power and relevance of this connection, both historical and present.” 

It is recommended that you watch the video for yourself if you haven’t already. The struggles and strength of Black people were beautifully highlighted with everyone of different backgrounds coming together as a community to help make this event happen.

Alyssa King

Hello, My name is Alyssa King. I’m a senior at Thomas A. Edison CTE High School. I enjoy writing and capturing/editing videos.