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Lift Every Voice: Why African American Poetry Matters: Poetry

This guide was created to support the Lift Every Voice initiative and grant. Tarrant County College is one of 49 institutions across the United States chosen to provide programming for this initiative.

About These Poems

The poems listed on this page were selected by Kevin Young, the Director of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, to be included in the Lift Every Voice initiative. For a full list of the initiative poems, please see the anthology, African American Poetry: 250 Years of Struggle & Song, 2020. The sample of poems range from the colonial period to the present and reveal the power of poetry as a means of self-assertion, of preserving and challenging history, and of giving voice to creative genius.

Poets A-I

Abani, Chris


Alexander, Elizabeth

Angelou, Maya

Baraka, Amiri (also known as Leroi Jones)

Betts, Reginald Dwayne

Bontemps, Arna

Brooks, Gwendolyn

Brown, Jericho

Brown, Sterling A.

Clifton, Lucille

Cotter, Joseph Seamon, Sr.

Cullen, Countee

Cuney, William Waring

Danner, Margaret

Davis, Frank Marshall

Derricotte, Toi

Diggs, LaTasha N. Nevada

Dixon, Melvin

Dove, Rita

Du Bois, W.E.B.

Dumas, Henry

Dunbar, Paul Laurence

Dunbar-Nelson, Alice Moore

Dungy, Camille

Forten, Sarah Louisa

Giovanni, Nikki

Gorman, Amanda (First National Youth Poet Laureate)

  • The Hill We Climb (2021 Inauguration Poem)

Hammon, Jupiter

Harper, Frances Ellen Watkins

Harper, Michael S.

Hayden, Robert

Hayes, Terrance

Horton, George Moses

Hughes, Langston

Poets J-Z

Jeffers, Honoree Fannone

Jess, Tyehimba

Johnson, Fenton

Johnson. Georgia Douglas

Johnson, James Weldon

Jordan, June

Kaufman, Bob

Knight, Etheridge

Lorde, Audre

McCallum, Shara

McCrae, Shane

McKay, Claude

Monet, Aja

Mullen, Harryette

Nelson, Marilyn

Pardlo, Gregory

Phillips, Carl

Phillips, Rowan Ricardo

Plato, Ann

Randall, Dudley

Rankine, Camille

Ray, Henrietta Cordelia

Rollins, Alison C.

Shepherd, Reginald

Shockley, Evie

Smith, Danez

Smith, Tracy K.

Spencer, Anne

St. John, Primus

Thomas, Lorenzo

Trethewey, Natasha

Troupe, Quincy

Walcott, Derek

Walker, Margaret

Weaver, Afaa Michael

Woods, Jamila

Wheatley, Phillis

Young, Kevin