Teens Talk It Up: Student Poems on Social Justice and Cultural Awareness

Written by Megan Byron

On June 26, 2020

During Teens Talk It Up 2017, CPN in partnership with The Jewish Federation of Charleston, brought students together to discuss the topics of Social Justice and Cultural Awareness.

On this specific day of the program, students were introduced to Marcus Amaker, Charleston’s first Poet Laureate. Mr. Amaker took time to discuss with the students his personal work in the area of social justice and further shared with them how that work is reflected into his poetry.

At the end of the day, each student was encouraged to right their own piece of poetry. We will let their words speak for themselves as you can read their original poems below.

Each of these students are now seniors in high school making plans for their future after graduation. Their words were just as pertinent three years ago as it relates to our current social climate now.

Bonus: At the bottom of this page, please find a link to one of Marcus Amaker’s poems from his newest book The Birth of All Things.

A poem by Theory Summers:

I used to be segregated and put out of order
But now I am independent and free to work with anyone

I wish that everyone can work together as one
That all people are better than no one
Sometimes I think to myself,
“How would it be to be put on a high shelf?”
But we live in a world that is bound of hate and oppression
And poverty on states make other peoples’ lives a living depression
Why must we argue, complain, and fight?
When we should be doing what is right.

I remember when my favorite color was orange
It kind of reminds me of something that is put in hidden storage
Now, my favorite color is blue
This color shows that I’m true to everyone, including you
I am not different colors of black and white
But aren’t I a combination of any color I’ve seen?
I might be.


Theory is currently attending Early College High School and plans to attend COFC 21 to pursue studies in computer programming and web design.

A poem by Stanford Summers:

I used to believe that we were all
purposely separated amongst our opposites
but now I know that isn’t true
We all bleed the same color but are solely
trapped in this state of mind being that one
be better than the other

I wish that some people would understand
how all of us have personal problems in our lives
and that physically asserting it onto someone else
will only deepen the void of separation
and misunderstanding found in today’s society

I’m speaking about bullying when I say this
the fact being that stereotypical bullies have their own life problems
and insecurities to deal with
Bullying is widely regarded as a bad thing, of course
but the constant redirection of bullying hasn’t stopped


Stanford is currently a student at the Early College High School with plans on attending COFC 21 with a focus on psychology and humanitarian studies.

A poem by James Carter:

I used to see everything separated
but now I see everything as one

I wish that there wasn’t so much hatred
and conflict against one another
I wish we could all put our differences aside
and come together as brothers

I remember starring at the blue sky
thinking about the things that Santa would give me
Dreaming of all the ways Santa could fit into someone’s chimney


James Carter is currently a student at the Early College High School. He has plans to enlist in the U.S. Air Force and to pursue a collegiate career in mechanical engineering.

A poem by Esther Adelson:

I used to be ignorant to the world’s problems
but now I know too much of them

I wish that kids didn’t stare on the street
just because they like someone of the same gender
I wish that people wouldn’t campaign
chanting against the rights of someone
just because of where they come from
I wish that people wouldn’t have to bury their children
because of things they had done to themselves
I wish that women didn’t have to worry when they were walking down a dark street
I wish that when a cop pulling someone over with darker skin
they didn’t immediately have to worry
I wish that our world was kinder
but wishes don’t usually come true

I remember Pride this year with rainbow flags flying proudly
A friend with a red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple flag around her shoulders
as she kissed another with her blue, pink, yellow flag
That day there were so many smiles
So much brightness showering the world in color


This poem is By Esther Adelson. On track to graduate next year, Esther is eagerly looking into universities both near and far from home!


The Birth of All Things by Marcus Amaker

Marcus Amaker has kindly shared with the CPN community an original poem from his newest book, now available for purchase, The Birth of All Things.

Follow this link to listen to Marcus’ poem, “Black is the New Black”: https://youtu.be/f-0mmB2rHqk

If you would like to purchase his book, available in multiple formats, please visit his website here: https://marcusamakerstore.com/collections/the-birth-of-all-things