Through the Eyes of a Teaching Artist: IS 126 Part 2


In our previous session (Lesson 2), we were introduced to the panel above from John Lewis’s comic March. The senator created this comic about his experiences during the civil rights movement. In groups, students were asked to examine the picture and think about the context of the 1960s and the Civil Rights Movement to understand the significance of the image. After asking what do you see, what do you notice, what’s going on, they were asked to write one word in response to the image that we collected and shared out to create a community wordlist.

As we continue to examine comics and poetry as forms that discuss important social, cultural or political issues, we introduced them to the poem “We” by Nikki Giovanni. “We” is a poem rich in imagery and description that captures the feelings and experiences of many African Americans and people of color during that time period. The poem is divided into 3 stanzas. Each group was given a different stanza to discuss what is happening and what images really paint a picture for them. We went around in groups reading the stanzas then sharing out our thoughts. The class then discussed the significance of the poem as a whole. For further context, Shawn also showed the group a clip from the movie “Selma”. The scene showed part of the church bombing (11:04) but also captured the metaphorical and literal language that is also depicted in Giovanni’s poem.

Students were then given a worksheet that paired Lewis’s “March” Comic panel and Giovanni’s “We” to write their own poem that used the community wordlist. Students had the option of writing their piece inspired solely from the comic panel, poem and understanding of (in)equality or a poem that combined their own personal experiences.

Ciara Cintron (8th Grade)

The fear of racism screaming in your head
You tell yourself it’s going to be fine, but its not
The next day you feel depressed for letting your people down
You feel devastated, you don’t know what to do
The only thing you want to do is to make your mama proud
It’s unfair the way people treat each other
The only thing i want to do is fix it, make the world a better place
Make God scream i’m so proud of what you do
Let’s put this in the past to make the world shine bright
But instead we got a dark world, with no love, no respect for each other 

Isabelle Pimentel  (6th grade)

Why must we wait,
wait for our rights,
wait for equality,
wait for peace.
Why must we start,
start a war,
ruin our somewhat quiet lives,
start a revolution.
Why must we fight.
Why must we become the bad guys.

Rafatune Myma (8th Grade, Monday)

Dark Room, Uncage Me Outta Here!
Madness coming our way
Injustice, we see everyday

When will this stop?
I am so tired of this
No more HARM, no more uselessness

This dark room in my mind,
Its haunting me
Get it out, that despair
Get it out, that hate

Let’s start a new game
A new one
Yo, let’s be uncaged