ODE – LIVE! 9/24/16

On September 24, 2016, in coordination with 100,000 Poets for Change (#100TPC, 100tpc.org), we organized our first ever live showcase of #OperationDefendEducation!

On this day, hundreds of poetry events took place for various social justice causes in over 130 countries. From Jalalabad, Afghanistan to Mavingo, Zimbabwe, possibly over 100,000 poets acted in a united effort for change.

Our event showcased artistic expressions from students and young people from all across Chicago speaking up for their educational rights.

As the Chicago Teachers Union and other organizations of students and teachers continue to struggle for educational rights, we hope the works on this blog are inspiring and useful to students, teachers, and activists everywhere who are fighting for a decent, humanizing education. Please contact revolutionarypoetsbrigadechi@gmail.com to organize workshops or showcases, coordinate performances, and submit works to the blog.

See you in the struggle,
– ODE/RPBchi

Sandra Swift
12th grade, Harlan Academy Community High School
Chicago, IL
“As an artist I am _______ (fill in the blank). As an activist: don’t mess with me.”


Bobby “Puncho Da God”
11th grade, Collins Academy High School
Chicago, IL
“It’s fun speaking freely and being your self”


Koko Holiday
School of LIFE!
Chicago, IL
“I represent Love, I represent peace, but most of all I represent truth!!!”






Concresha Hampton
10th grade, Collins Academy High School
“I like to express myself.”


Kimani Fleming
12th Grade, Harlan Community Academy High School
“I am a motivated singer.”





Poetic Taee
12th grade, Truman Middle College

CPS done CPD’d my education. 

Seized every lesson plan planned to educate me about my people and killed my dreams. Remember, African American lit is an elective. Anything not slavery or Jim Crow is neglected. Teach them to fail themselves. Never take a brown horse to water if it’s thirsty. Teach them to be oppressed. Never teach them of any success. A black man held a light bulb above my head while Thomas plotted on how to flip the switch. Said a white man did it. A white man has always done it. He always schooling my people giving them projects, the hood. We don’t know how to spell neighbor because we’re redlined into not being one. We steady talkin Ls. We don’t have neighbors because they are our family. Blood brothers, cell mates. Schools can’t keep track of funds for books or to pay teachers but got projectors in the hallway to lure new prey into prisons. Punish the poor because of your privilege. Fed like criminals just not in loafs. Loath meeting adulthood because I can’t pay taxes, or mortgage, or buy a car but I know Columbus stole America, I know the great gatsby from cover to cover, and I know how to graph a slope. Was never taught how to climb one though. I was taught to expect obstacles. Remember if it isn’t a challenge it isn’t enough. You are taught to never be enough. Surrender to the the most high… ACT Score. ACT, act like you know what you’re doing. Act like you don’t know ACT stands for Anchoring Colored Teens. Act like a score doesn’t make you feel poor about yourself. Act like a score doesn’t set you up to be poor in the future. They grade you to degrade you. Put a pencil in your hand and a Scantron on your desk and demand you pass with no knowledge in your mind and no lead. Lead you to the valleys of the shadows of college and jobs. Barefoot and hungry. Crawling, reaching, and praying for the test to be over. 


Ariana Strong,
12th Grade, Harlan Community Academy High School
“My poems tend to rhyme”

I remember when teachers and students looked forward to school,
We thought it was cool.
What happened?
The government corrupted;
Budget cutting.
Unequal opportunities across the city,
We don’t need the pity.
Do they even care?
Doesn’t seem so, or things would be fair.
What we need are more diverse classes,
So we’re not labeled lazy asses.
We want to learn,
But we’re stopped at every turn.
We don’t want, nor need limitation,
We need better and diverse education.


Demetrius “The Execution”
11th grade, Collins Academy High School
Chicago, IL
“I have unused potential”


my education is facing
a crisis that’s really what I’ve
been told  the budget cuts
sliced up more than Scatchell’s
pizza so now I gotta be
bold so let me speak out
about a story that’s never
been told.
I remember in december when it
was cold kids from 3 areas
whose school was closed
everyone were the nice kids we all
thought they didn’t belong
we were told to be doctors instead of
of firefighters
But they did something different
a girl sang a song  a boy
spoke the right to wrong wait
hold up the wrong to right  we changed
our future at the spark of a light
they wanted an education too
still after the strike as I looked
on tv and as I look outside they
should already know we all
can’t sleep at night we gotta fight
now because our education is broken
with all its might.


Danielle “Toni Coutute” Carthorn
12th grade, JCFS
Chicago, IL
“I am a Leo hope that sums it up.”

A dream to fly…

A dream to fly is a dream that I despise.

To fly, fly away from all the problems, discrimination, despise and, crime UN solved for us.

See, it sounds nice, but would it be wise. to run away from my problems, stay silent and hide..

No but its food for thought running away from life, life’s lessons like you have nothing to leave behind…

No I told the man I’m staying, I’m fighting, I’m fighting this fight, pursuing, and prevailing for this is my life, this me, is the me, I will remain to be. the me I will maintain to be, the me I will gain from…see…

He said why are you so strong, why are you so stuck on trying to prolong, prolong the process of your annihilation, of becoming accepted, and successful, and then for that… hmph you have no hesitation…

Humph revelation, to my trials, and tribulations, revelation to the so called success, in this wicked association…hmph uneducated, deliberate devastation, shooting in night clubs to wreak havoc on those who have no liberation… freedom to stand on or a world without discrimination…hmph…

Because if anyone… in the rainbow community were to exhibit these acts, there would be no excuses an that’s a fact… but I say let’s not give up, let’s keep fighting, for the better of our future, because stupid, is stupid. Common sense, aint common, and as far as I’m concerned, we all have something to learn dammit. So fly like a bird away from our problems. I think not!…

Let’s stand up and fight for the for the fight that has failed to be fought, the uncommon, the rare jewels, and the so called odd balls, because no one is going to fight for you like the ones you can relate to, and as far as I’m concerned you are unique, and oh so rare, and if anyone asks you’re, grand beyond compare!

Slay for the gawds walk this runway as if it’s the world you never saw!


Peter Lekas
10th grade, William Howard Taft High School
“I write about my life.”

Our educator,
The person who has
open doors whenever.
Are the ones being
Treated the worst.

They don’t get the respect
From the board of education,
From the students they teach
And we say we “know” this teacher
But do you know what’s happening
In their personal life?

If they do not feel respected
Then they will not give respect
They will treat you the way you
Treat them.
Then the students won’t respect
No one will be respecting any one

But some people don’t deserve
The police who are
killing innocent
pedestrians trying to
get there life
In shape, but they can’t
do that 6 feet under.

Some people don’t deserve
Such as those teachers
who don’t teach anymore.
The ones who throw a
Piece of paper at you
And tell you to complete it.

Tell us why the the ones
Who are supposed to educate
And motivate us are the ones
who are giving us more and
more anxiety?
You say you teach but
Is giving us a paper teaching?
Then failing us on the
Midterm because you said we
Just didn’t pay attention.

And the ones who are supposed
To make us feel safe are the
Ones who are making us feel
More and more scared to leave
The safety and comfort of
Our homes.
Why do you fear people who
Don’t look like you?
Maybe you’re the problem.

You say the system is broken
But the system was never complete.

We understand
We understand that everyone
Had problems and
We can never know each exact
But why take your aggravation
Out on us the students,
The innocent pedestrians?

We understand that
Budget cuts such
But what you don’t understand
Is that it’s not our fault.
We didn’t decided to make
You’re hard earned money get
smaller and smaller,
I promise.

Yet along with those
Bad teachers/ police officers.
There are good ones,
They may be hard to find.
But there are out there they
Don’t deserve the things that
Are happening to them.
They have realized that
If you want something done
You have to go out and do it.

I have gone to one to
many schools,
To realize that sometimes
You have to go out and make
a difference.
Instead of blaming the
Students and pedestrians.

you have to wake
Your third eye,
To see what is happening
To this corrupted system.