To Belong Is To Be


I’m cut from what James Farmer built.
Congress, what are you forgetting about CORE?
If I belong to what made William Garrison,
Why is the next candidate in a seat not
Fully reforming?

Campaign after campaign,
Promise after promise,
Talk after talk,
Ends with no results.

John Lewis is turning in his grave.
Frederick Douglass, we are lost!

The money make ‘em forget who they

Democrats got the House,
But still don’t help right the wrongs
Of old that keep African Americans in

I’m a fourth-generation “freed” slave.
Why do I belong more in prison,
Than in my family’s company?
Because I belong to a history that still
Demands justice.

I belong to what Ralph D. Albernathy is cut from.


  1. Jen Marshall on July 4, 2023 at 10:33 AM

    This is so powerful. As a white citizen of this country, I’m so ashamed of our government’s failure to address the injustices suffered by Black Americans from slavery to the current day. What I love most about this poem is how you put yourself next to some of the most important voices for justice over the years and recognize that you are made of the same material. You cry to Frederick Douglass that we are “lost,” but I don’t think we as a country will ever be lost if people like you continue to speak.

  2. Ann on September 27, 2023 at 8:08 PM

    Hi KW,

    I am so moved by your poem! I just read your lines about being a 4th generation freed slave to a little group of us reading poems submitted to Free Minds. It brought chills to everyone. You have inherited the late great John Lewis’ gift of the power of words. Keep on keeping on!

    Best, Ann

  3. Sarah on October 22, 2023 at 5:06 PM

    The mention of those who have come before you is inspiring! Political injustices are always a relevant topic, so this poem is timeless. The political call outs are all the more meaningful when it comes from those affected by these shortcomings, and I found the line “why do I belong more in prison, than in my family’s company?” especially touching. This poem is very profound and thought provoking, keep writing!

  4. Chloe Espinal on October 22, 2023 at 6:21 PM

    Although I am not very politically versed, I understood everything you communicated in this piece. You conveyed your outrage perfectly and undoubtedly uplifted many many voices with this piece and I love how justice-oriented it is. I love how you consistently mentioned political figures in order to get your point across, it was very effective and it made my understanding of this poem even more clear.

  5. Morgan Schoenenberger on November 5, 2023 at 7:15 PM

    This is a powerful poem. You compare and share how this justice system is unfair and how you are suffering from it and how you and so many others deserve better. You are pushing to let people hear you so a difference can be made. Keep sharing!

  6. Molly on November 15, 2023 at 1:06 PM

    This brought me a feeling of anger and frustration right out of the gate. You are so right for being upset about the wrongs and failures of the justice system and people in power, and the names you use to support your views and opinions make your poem so much stronger. You used emotion and evidence, which makes for such a complete and full work. This is a very impressive piece of writing.

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The poets featured here are currently incarcerated, and many of them are in federal prisons far from home. Your feedback is a valuable source of motivation and connection to the outside community. Post your comments, feedback, and encouragement in the space below the poem. Messages will be passed on directly to the author. Comments may not appear immediately on the site, as our team processes them to mail to the poets.