March 10th, 2010
09:10 AM ET

Journey for Change – Poetry

Editor's Note: Students from Brooklyn, N.Y. are traveling to Ghana as Global Service Ambassadors as part of a trans-Atlantic youth service and advocacy summit, bringing together African-American youth and Ghanaian child labor trafficking survivors. The project is called Journey for Change: Empowering Youth Through Global Service and is in partnership with the Touch A Life Foundation. The Ambassadors will advocate for the eradication of child slavery when they return and they will visit Capitol Hill and the United Nations as part of their efforts. Read their poetry below.

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Journey for Change



Did my ancestors have to endure such inhuman circumstances from an alien?
Being righteous and open to newcomers resulted in lashes, blood and death.

Why was I ripped from my culture, heritage and chances of knowing where my origins are from?

13 years of bareness
Carrying nothing on my back to share with my loved ones.

Was it really necessary?

Our ancestors want us know that they are thinking of us
They want us to retrace our ancestry.

- Sydney Smart, 13-years-old

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Sadness Overflowering

There is sadness that fills my
body when I am told you have been beat.
I get on my feet sadness overflowed
with anger now I am furious, thinking
of that whip slapped to your skin
and through to your flesh, I can
hear you yelling, makes me feel
uncomfortable, but guess what
help is on the way, you feel it in your
gut, guess who it is, your knight
in shining armor, can you see,
it’s me?

– Benjamin Goode, 13-years-old

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Enslaved Women and The Governor’s Wives—Why?

Why did I come here?
Why did we walk for two months or more
To get but one foot in this place—
Worn out clothes
Bloodied bottoms
Uncomfortable state of the mind
Creating a year long lasting stench
Unpleasant smells
Battered, beaten and bleeding
Shackled for a punishment
Washed to be disrespected by the Governor
Pain of lost family, faith, confidence and love for self
Loss of feeling and words
Did that white man lose his heart and all of his soul?
Uhm, hum
He lost his God loving mind
Do you know that these girls
Felt used, abused, labored?
So many left to die.
Enslaved woman whom I am addressing this to
The Governor’s African wives and the corrupted minds
Of the voices who still whisper, sing and dance
Through the movement of our precious waters
For here in Africa across the Atlantic and back
Creating triangles which these men had to pay for
On their way in the hottest place in the Bible
The deep depths of hell where he may be a slave
Now it is your turn to pay
Be laughed at and embarrassed
Us women speak and the Governor is to be no more.

– Latoya Massie, 16-years-old

El Mina Castle

To learn more on the life of a slave.
To imagine 50-100 people locked in a small, dark cell.
To feel the overpowering heat.
You can’t move and can barely breathe.
To think of the torture our ancestors endured.
Some things you can’t conceive.
To smell the terrible stench of death and those dying of disease
And the person who urinates on himself for there is no restroom
To go to if you please.
Some are terrified.
Some choose to be brave.
Some rebel and dig themselves an early grave.
They are beaten and battered if they misbehave.
And that is but a snippet in the life of a slave.

- Joshua Hall, 16-years-old


My people had to shed blood
Unfairly. Getting whipped angry but still standing tall.
Lost a lot of flesh. Getting brutally whipped angry.
But my people are still standing strong. You my love one
that I lost but never forgotten.
I came to rescue our relationship
and share it with others.

– Jasmine Figueroa, 15-years-old

Filed under: 360° Radar • Journey for Change
soundoff (2 Responses)
  1. ecogayle

    Amazing poetry from these young people. I am in tears reading these poems.

    March 11, 2010 at 5:29 am |
  2. Denise Barlow

    Incredible! Well written with powerful messages. I loved reading each and every one of them.

    March 10, 2010 at 2:54 pm |