A boycott is a voluntary act of protest that refuses purchasing or trading goods with another business, organization, or government. It demonstrates economic or social power, and is often motivated by a moral upset. 

Below you can find poems and activities that tie boycotting to erasure poetry, which both use absence as a tool to create change. 

Camp Activities

The following activities have been adapted from Teach This Poem: “Making History” by Marilyn Nelson. They can be done alone or with a guardian, sibling, friend, or partner.

  1. Look at this photograph carefully and write down what you see. Write as many details as possible. If you immediately recognize the subject of the photograph, write down what elements of the photograph tell you who this person is.

  2. Share the details you noticed with your partner. What do you think about the situation in the photograph? What details in the photograph support your interpretation?

  3. Research: What do you know about Rosa Parks? Research the story of the Montgomery Bus Boycott and browse this primary source gallery about Rosa Parks from the Library of Congress.

  4. Read the poem “Making History.” Write down all the words and phrases that jump out at you. Write down any questions you have after reading the poem.

  5. Take turns reading the poem aloud if you have a partner. Listen and write down any new words or phrases that come to mind, or questions you might have.

  6. Share your observations with your partner and help one another answer your questions. This may involve some individual/group research to discover all the “firsts” mentioned in the poem.

  7. What is the speaker in the poem telling us is necessary to “make history?” What are the “little white lies” about which she is speaking?

Poet to Know

june_jordan

“‘I am talking about a span of forty years of tireless activism coupled with and fueled by flawless art.”
       —Toni Morrison on June Jordan

June Jordan was born in New York City on July 9, 1936. She was an activist, poet, writer, teacher, and prominent figure in the civil rights, feminist, antiwar, and LGBTQ movements of the twentieth century. Jordan authored over twenty-seven books of poems, children’s books, and plays, including Soldier: A Poet’s Childhood (Basic/Civitas Books, 2000), the novel His Own Where (Crowell, 1971) which was nominated for the National Book Award, and Who Look at Me (Crowell, 1969), as well as a memoir. 

Celebrate June Jordan's birthday on July 9th and read more of her work at Poets.org.

Term to Learn

This week’s poetic term, erasure poetry, also known as blackout poetry, is a form of found poetry wherein a poet takes an existing text and erases, blacks out, or otherwise obscures a large portion of the text, creating a wholly new work from what remains. 

Read more about erasure poetry, then try it yourself with Emerge, an online tool that enables you to make, save, and send erasure poems.