All Lives Matter
As a fifth-grader in Peekskill, N.Y., Kwasi Yeboah ’16 was captivated by the Langston Hughes’ poem Dreams, which reads in part: “hold fast to dreams, for when dreams die, life is a broken-winged bird that cannot fly.” Yeboah recalled dreaming a lot as a child. He was inspired by Hughes’ words – and his message.
Today Yeboah, a political science major and philosophy minor, is seeing one of his own dreams come true. His poem, All Lives Matter, which reflects on the relationship between the police and the public, will be published in the literary anthology plain china. Housed at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, plain china showcases the best undergraduate writing from around the country.
Yeboah wrote the poem about a year ago as a meditation on the Black Lives Matter movement that followed the deaths of numerous African-American civilians at the hands of police. He was inspired by the work of authors like Hughes, for sure, but also by a young writer much closer to home – his sister Afua, then 10, who had also written on the subject for school.
“These events were in the news more and more, and as they were talking about how people were losing their lives, I was really kind of hurt,” Yeboah recalled. “What I hope people will get from that is the importance of understanding each other. As far as I am concerned life is precious and we’re not going to get another one, so we can’t be quick to degrade it.”
Yeboah initially wrote All Lives Matter for the College’s 2015 Cultural Extravaganza. The officers of the student organization POWER (Pride in Our Work, Ethnicity and Race) invited him to write a piece for the annual event. Later several of his friends suggested that he submit it to the College’s literary journal, The Salamander. David Lloyd, professor of English and director of the creative writing program, then sent The Salamander to the editors of plain china.
“I felt blessed when I heard that it had been chosen,” Yeboah said. “It’s so rewarding to know that what I have to say matters to other people.”