Black Lives Matter: A Statement of Solidarity

A poem written from home this past month by one of our student poets:

Jaylon speaks plainly to the need for system-wide truth, reconciliation, and justice, from 5th grade.

The Chicago Poetry Center stands in solidarity with Black communities, with protesters, with organizers and community members fighting to dismantle racist systems of oppression. The Chicago Poetry Center believes every Black person has the right to life, liberty, safety, and the pursuit of happiness. The right to jog, to sleep in bed, to attend a pool party; the right to be trans or gay; the right to be a person, alive.

The right to live, however, is only the most basic and urgent demand of today’s protestors, at the foundation of a long list of needs for systemic change. As an arts and education nonprofit, we seek to transparently examine where we are most effectively supporting our community and where we must grow.

Holding a Mirror To Ourselves

The Chicago Poetry Center currently works to equitably support redlined Chicago communities with arts education. The Chicago Poetry Center strives on a daily basis to engage in removing its own inequities.

In the name of transparency, some numbers: out of 5,500 students supported with regular residencies and pop up programming this academic year, we supported approximately 2,150 Black students, 2,365 Latinx students, 550 white students and 330 Asian students. 4,235 of these students are low income. Our teaching artists self-report as Black (55%), Latinx (36%), white (27%), Asian (18%) and multiracial (36%). The Chicago Poetry Center builds curriculum for our students that showcases a diversity of poetic voices, highlighting Black and Latinx Chicago poets.

Our Executive Director is white and our board is majority white—indicating a common problem in our industry, which is that while we are racially diverse in our program staff and constituents, we lack significant diversity at the leadership level. Our approach is to seek training for current leadership to ensure we are prepared to be a welcoming and supportive community for all to thrive in, auditing our membership for potential barriers, and active recruitment.

Our organization is growing. As we grow, we commit to growing our diversity at every level of our organization and our work.

What We Pledge


The Chicago Poetry Center was able to continue supporting jobs for teaching artists and poetry to Chicago schools through the end of our annual academic programming in May.

We pledge to continue our support to our students and our greater community through next school year, virtually, in person, and however needed.

We also pledge to continue growing diversity within our organization in particular with an eye towards our leadership.

We will continue to ask our students to dream, envision, and write our futures. We will continue to celebrate them and the futures they are writing for us:



“Writing poetry makes me feel like I can see myself, like I can see my reflection, but not in a mirror, in the world. I write and I know I can be reflected.”
-Oscar S.

“Writing poetry makes me feel free.”
-Buenda D.

“Writing poetry is like your best friend.”
-Jessica M.