It’s officially Juneteenth! An incredibly important day in history celebrating the emancipation of enslaved people in the U.S. in 1865. All kinds of events and celebrations are happening around the country today to uplift Black voices. If you’re looking to take part and support Black artists, take a look at these talented Black poets. They deliver captivating performances with powerful messages. Drawing from personal experiences and from their observations of the world, they create incredible pieces of work to share and raise awareness of Black issues.
Steven Willis – How the Hood Loves You Back
Steven Willis is a writer and poet from Chicago whose work is heavily influenced by his experience with urban life as well as religion. He uses his theater background and elements of hip hop to express a personal narrative that involves anthropology and political theory.
Ebony Stewart – White Men Say Weird Things To Me
Ebony Stewart is a poet, writer, and performance artist from Texas. Her work emphasizes gender, sexuality, womanhood, race, and queer-positivity. Stewart aims to make her work relatable and to remove shame around these topics and encourage conversations about them.
Rudy Francisco – Scars/To the New Boyfriend
Rudy Francisco is from San Diego and is an artist who combines social criticism, introspection, and humor to discuss race, class, gender, and religion. His work promotes a dialogue on these issues and promotes social change.
Raych Jackson – Period Rules
Rachel “Raych” Jackson is a writer, performer, and educator from Chicago who pushes the creation of culturally relevant poetry. Her encouragement largely goes toward educators to implement poetry in their curriculums. She uses her experience in Chicago Public Schools to have an impact on the community.
Muna Abdulahi – Pronounce Us Correctly
Muna Abdulahi is a Somali-American poet based in Minnesota. Her work explores ideas of belonging and identity. She puts forward silenced stories and those that are otherwise difficult to talk about among youth and communities.
Javon Johnson – cuz he’s black
Javon Johnson is an Assistant Professor of African American and African Diaspora studies at the University of Nevada. He is also a writer and poet with interests in performance, African American literature, Black pop culture, Black feminist and queer theory, and masculinity studies among many more.
While this list is not all-encompassing and there are so many more Black artists, writers, authors, and creators out there, this can be a starting point for listening to Black voices. It’s important to pay attention and not speak over those who share their stories and knowledge this month. This also goes beyond Juneteenth – it’s our job to make sure these experiences don’t get pushed into the background.