Teenager's Incisive Poem Illustrates Why Ferguson Broke Our Hearts

Human Rights


As we approach the one-month mark of Michael Brown's death, college student Jason Fotso, 17, tweeted a poem reflecting on that tragic day.

"1964 Birmingham is 2014 Ferguson, 50 years later but these cops, they're still murderin'. Still armed to harm, police dogs still barkin,' Misery in Missouri, as we march in like Martin," the Maple Grove, Minnesota native wrote in the opening lines.

Fotso wrote the poem on August 18, but held off publishing it on social media because he was unsure of how his hometown friends would respond to his words. But after reading the poem at a vigil for Michael Brown at Duke University, where he is a freshman, Fotso decided it was time for him to publicize his piece.

"I came to the realization that the voices of black youth, who are often victimized and vulnerable to the injustices and prejudices that are highlighted in my poem, should cease to remain quiet in fear any longer and that it too was my responsibility to be a part of the protests, the process, and the progress," Fotso told AlterNet.

Darren Wilson, the Ferguson police officer who shot Brown, has not been arrested. Fotso ended his piece with a sad irony about how having a black man in the executive office means little for his safety: "All while one of our own sits in the Oval Office/But in this White House, has black really made any progress?"

He doesn't completely dismiss President Obama's role in office but suggests it is only the beginning of a long journey for black people in the U.S. to feel like the Constitution gives them the right to live in peace.

"Undoubtedly, we have come a long way since the dark days of institutionalized segregation, Jim Crow laws, and the Ku Klux Klan, thanks to leaders like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Rosa Parks, and Malcolm X," Fotso said. "But it is still our responsibility to persist in our push for progress and be the leaders of today, in order to achieve a better tomorrow."

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