African-American Teen Poets Write On Death And Violence

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African-American teenagers who won a Martin Luther King Day poetry contest in Milwaukee talk in their works of death and apathy.

At a King Day breakfast, the award-winners read their poems. Olivia Bell called hers, ‘The Struggle’: “Let these words heal the wounds made by bullets in my fellow brothers and sisters / Let those guns be made into bandages that heal the community instead of breaking it apart.”

Dominique Fortune read from her poem, ‘Courage to Care’: “Another one dead. Another tear shed. One more bullet. One less life. Someone’s husband. Someone’s wife.”

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But in his poem called “Quiet Behind Locked Doors,” Chris Fears spoke of public indifference to society’s problems: “Apathy and ignorance has a cunning way of wrapping its cold hands around the neck of cowards. / It chokes the life out of hope / and steals the vision from the dreams of liberty and justice for all.”

Milwaukee officials say there’s a reason for the bleak themes. Of the 92 homicides in the city last year, close to half of the victims were between the ages of 17 and 29.

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