We Real Cool By Nikki Giovanni Essay

Words: 1497
Pages: 6

Gwendolyn Brooks and Nikki Giovanni’s Impact on the Civil Rights Movement In the early 1960s, America found itself divided over the issue of civil rights. The culture of the nation was heavily influenced by the civil resistance that resulted from racial segregation and discrimination against African Americans. During this time, African American protest poetry emerged with a distinct focus on black culture within the larger American society. Protest poetry was popular during the 1960’s because it delivered the powerful message of social change through poetic and rhythmic devices. During this radical time in history, African American female poets Gwendolyn Brooks and Nikki Giovanni emerged with powerful protest poetry that raised awareness and …show more content…
Brooks’ inspiration for the poem might come from a time when she was living on Chicago’s South Side amid the struggles of urban black life. The first stanza of the poem begins with, “We real cool. We left school” (1-2) and infers that the teenagers are not fond of attending school. The Supreme Court ruling in the 1954 case Brown v. Board of Education declared that it was unconstitutional to segregate schools. Desegregation was slow to happen, however, and caused tremendous frustration for the black community. It is apparent that the boys in the poem are dealing with the struggles of racism and ethnic identity. The poem continues with listing some of the rebellious behaviors the teenage boys partake in as they hang out at a pool hall. “We lurk late / We strike straight / We sing sin / We thin gin” (4-6) suggest that the teenagers actions are illegal and reckless. Brooks shows in the last line of the poem, “We die soon” (7-8) that the teenager’s behavior described in the poem contributes to the end outcome – their death - which is a result of their consequences. The poem, “We Real Cool” is a powerful example of how disadvantaged black youth are affected by poverty, racial oppression and lack of education. Brooks’ work undoubtedly raised political and racial consciousness making her not only an outspoken militant voice against prejudice and racism but also a virtuoso of poetic techniques that captured the day-to-day struggles of people. According to Mary Helen Washington,