Maya Angelou’s legacy: stories that make us whole

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Dr. Maya Angelou is famous for embracing and sharing all of her life experiences – the good, the bad, and the horrifying. Her philosophy was that all experiences are important parts of making a complete human being. In that vein, SCSJ offers you the poetry of formerly incarcerated people and their families. Because while these may not be happy stories, they are still important stories. They are stories that make us who we are today, and that makes them invaluable.


Maya Angelou's legacy


Your Daddy bought you a bicycle?

And he walked you into class?

Well my momma always told me

That “Daddy thing” don’t last

He read you a story in bed last night?

And then he tucked you in?

I thought that was a movie scene

Where them actors played pretend

Are you sure yo Daddy goes to work

And that he aint tricklin’ out that dope

Cause my Daddy too, was a good ole boy

Till them handcuffs stole his hope

Yeah, my Daddy gone

But its alright, cause I’m fillin in his shoes

His peeps they call me “Jr. Rock”

And they makin’ sho’, that I don’t lose!

Written by Nadiah Porter – Poet, SCSJ Intern

May Angelou

New Days Are Coming

I wouldn’t mind if the Sun chose to shine on Renee

Every day in her life it seems to rain

A little bit harder every single day

And I’m singing where the blue skies go

Cause lately her skies are nothing but gray

And I pray that through the grey skies she still sees the Sun

I pray, that through the grey skies she still sees the Son, o

Of our Heavenly Father

Telling her that God wrote for her life to go further,

Although it seems like the end of the road it is not

This was just the wrong turn,

A bad decision, a pit stop

Dear Renee, this time for God to sit you down and talk to you

New days are coming and He has much more for you to do

He wants to use you as a messenger

Tell your story of how you’ve been through the fiery pits of hell

And you made it through

Tell the world how the whole time God had you!

He had your back and He still do ‘

Please know He already prayed for you.

The victory, has already been written for you

You win!

You get to come home to your kids

They miss their mom and I miss my friend

The rain ends

A new chapter begins

You get to try life anew

The sun is shining on you!

Son is shining on you!

And I don’t mind because I love you

God bless you

Written by Regina Johnson – Poet

Once Upon a Time

Once upon a time

 I was locked in a cell 4 years, 24/7.

No windows.


I saw the “MOON”.

As if for the first time…….



Written by Tico Porter – Former inmate



The valley of decision

He will have them in derision

Because of the prisons

Where the souls are dwelling

We hear them yelling for more to be built

To be filled with filth

That they relate to our race

As we blindly fill up the space

….I’m hollering wait

Stop the nonsense

Being convicts

Slaves to the system

You can’t resist them.

Find the simplest thing to do

You chose it

Don’t let It chose you

Life is a big road

With a lot of signs

Open the mind use what

You got

Fill your

Own slot

With a slug not from a so called thug

Trying to get props on a block

That’s already hot

……..I’m hollering wait

stop the nonsense

Being convicts slaves to the system

You can’t resist them

We are ALL victims

Even the slick ones

They tricking them

Keep it TIGHT

with the Right

And you can’t go wrong

What is strong is strong

You know steel(Israel)

You cant get over it

But you can get through it

So lock it down In your town (your state of mind)

….You can resist them……

Written by Shebah Irie – Poet



How does the story go… Listen to the rain against my window…

Under estimated, never congratulated, through the struggle He still made it..

Forced to kiss the hand of another man.. Spirit unbroken, still able to stand…

BLACKMAN, BLACKMAN run as fast as you can…

Run from the gangs that enslave our youth…

Run from the hatred to get to the truth…

No more sitting at the back of the bus, United we stand the world will hear from us..

One Man can’t change all, but divided we fall…

BLACKMAN, BLACKMAN can you take my hand?

Together as soldiers we fight in a war that equally isn’t right..

So break free of the pain we afflict one one another… And come together for change my Brother..

One Man had a Dream, together we can make it come true…

BLACKMAN,BLACKMAN that dreams starts with you….

Written by Jeron Jackson 2009- Former Inmate (nephew of Tico Porter, also former inmate)

when it rains it pours

“When it Rains it Pours”

I shed tears in my dreams, because this world won’t let me cry…

If I blink to slow, then the world just might pass me by…

Wishing I could break free of my chains and fly…

I wish I could run from the Day to find my Tomorrow…. Leaving behind the pain, leaving behind the sorrow….

Sometimes Life can be a bit too much,

Most times it’s not quite enough…

I wish I could time travel, but would I just get nowhere fast… In a glitch of minutes trying run from my past…

Feeling like an itch within a cast….

Unable to scratch away my scars….

Longing to break free of Life’s imprisonment ,unlocking these bars…

We spend our Lives trying to make it better… unable to escape the unclaiming weather…

Feeling our Life and time with objects to restrain the pain..

But no matter what is done there’ll always be a drop of rain…

So stop trying to close the doors…

Because everyone knows when it rains it pours…

Written by Jeron Jackson 2009- Former Inmate (nephew of Tico Porter, also former inmate)

beginning anew

Beginning anew

Beginning anew

And the things I now choose to do,

require much effort and energy

And focus on my part

But mostly exercising my free will.

The choice is mine, and no one else,

If I’m left behind or stripped away from freedom,

It’s because of self.

It is I who can only hold me back

Where’s the productiveness in that.

The code I once lived by was that of a lower nature and negative

And plenty of suspended animation and procrastination

But to continue to live without change

The result is MY

Producing mass incarceration

   By: J.F. Davis

Written By The Southern Coalition for Social Justice

Maya Angelou’s legacy: stories that make us whole was originally published @ Southern Coalition for Social Justice and has been syndicated with permission.


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