The City We Became

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Written and performed by Chapel Hill Poet Laureate CJ Suitt.

The City We Became

As I stand here
In my hometown
In the city we became
My mind begins to roll back before
Back to March 19th 1964
A date they marched to be treated
Like human beings
Basic human rights we all strive for now
In a world so riddled with division we wonder how
In this place where too often
we still don’t see those
Who have less or belong to a community of rainbows
And in all of it we miss out on the beauty that could be
If we love and accept each other
We could all be free

In this city
This history
This herstory
This place
That has so much to offer
This place that has a yet to remember it self
Piece it self back together
Person by person
Property taxes rise
Faces that look like mine
Tend to fold or fade away
To the outskirts of town
Where they can afford to stay

Through all of this
We still find a way
To make ways out of no way

And I still remember as if I was standing here
57 years ago
Faces marching for freedom
To be represented
In public space
To sit down at a lunch counter
To be served
And treated like a paying customer
Rather than always feeling like the server

It can be so easy to feel like we are already on our way to winning
The battles of race, gender acceptance and equality
And I tell you we are still just getting started
We stand on the shoulders of those who marched
Spoke up, sat down

It is our turn
To take up the banners of freedom
To stand up and be counted
Embody an active peace that requires
The resilience to continue to call in those we love
And stay with them and ourselves as we grow
Keep bending the rainbow arc of the universe
Towards justice
One step at a time
A generation of magical minds
Transforming the trauma into triumph
Listening to the ancestral call
To keep marching
Until the town becomes a home.

Learn More about the Chapel Hill Poet Laureate Program