In front of Oakland City Hall on this beautiful sunny afternoon, surrounded by an audience of several hundred people, twelve black poets spoke. Sponsored by the National Poetry Slam and the Anti Police-Terror Project the poets talked about pain, racism, police violence, Black death, and living in their skin everyday. The event was part of a larger campaign, Black Poets Speak Out, initiated by Amanda Johnston, Jericho Brown, Mahogany Browne, Jonterri Gadson and Sherina Rodriguez-Sharpe in response to the murder of Mike Brown.  It became a hashtag video campaign featuring hundreds of videos of poets.

And while the poems are very different, they all start the same heartbreaking message: “I am _____. I am a black poet. I will not remain silent while this nations continues to murder black people. I have a right to be angry.”

For more information on Black Poets Speak Out, go to or on Twitter @blackpoetsspeak.

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