Words Are Serious, Words Are Divine

by Kewulay Kamara
Originally Published In 2003

Taking students to visit community sites can provide rich, authentic experiences that inspire powerful personal responses. Often young rappers are—as freestyler Toni Blackman put it—”stuck in style” so writing about dramatic new experiences forces them to experiment. African-American high school students who participated in City Lore’s Poetry Dialogues project worked with poets Toni Blackman and Kewulay Kamara to write poems based on their experience of visiting St. Augustine’s Church, on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, where slaves and former slaves were separated from White parishioners in a ‘slave gallery’ above the main sanctuary.