Ajax students use poetry to connect with Black history

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WATCH: February is Black History Month. A group of high school students in Ajax are learning more about their roots through poetry. Aaron Streck reports – Feb 5, 2020

A group of students in Ajax, Ont., are using Black History Month, and poetry, to learn more about their roots.

Tatyana Gobourne is tapping into her inner Maya Angelou.

The 18-year-old is learning more about Black history through her expressive poems.

“It’s really empowering because you can see from different people’s points of view, where they’re coming from and what they’re getting through, what they got through and they’re rising,” said Gobourne, an Ajax High School Grade 12 student.

The theme for this Black History Month is going forward while honouring the past.

Gobourne is trying to do just that with words and will be using them as part of a Black poetry reciting competition through York University.

READ MORE: Montreal’s Black Theatre Workshop honours outstanding artists to kick off Black History Month

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“Honestly when I first heard the word black, it just kind of just drew me in, because being Black myself there’s not really that many opportunities, so just hearing something that is dedicated towards us Black people, it really encouraged me to want to be apart of it,” said Gobourne.

And it also attracted some of her classmates.

“There’s growth within the community and we do not remain where we were before, but instead we’ve progressed,” said Daniella Pierre, another Ajax High School Grade 12 student.

Click to play video: 'Black History Month: The meaning behind Juneteenth' Black History Month: The meaning behind Juneteenth
Black History Month: The meaning behind Juneteenth – Feb 1, 2020

Eleanor McIntosh, Ajax High School’s principal, is encouraged by these steps. She’s also inspired to see these young women take this experience beyond the classroom and become role models.

“Channeling the views and the voice of our ancestors just like in the I Rise poem by Maya Angelou, I think is a great way to connect our youth to the history that we want them to learn,” said McIntosh.

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READ MORE: Black History Month: What Juneteenth represents for Black Americans

Gobourne knows there’s still a long way to go — this is just another way to have her and so many others’ voices heard.

“With change and empowering each other and just lifting up each other and rising,” said Gobourne.

The Black Poetry Recitation Contest finals are at the beginning of March. Win or lose, just getting the youth to tap into their roots and spend months learning about Black history is a win in itself, say organizers.

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