In the fall of 2014, I taught a course in World Religions to 25 men in prison. It was one of the most amazing experiences I’ve ever had as a teacher. It was also one of the most disturbing and unsettling experiences I’ve ever had as a pastor and theologian. I’m still unpacking the experience, and plan to continue writing in that direction.
For tonight, in honor of Black History month, I want to share a poem that I shared with my students at the end of class. We couldn’t take food into the prison, so I had to find a different way to celebrate the end of the term. I shared poetry. I’ve long loved Maya Angelou and she presciently captures the tragic situation in which U.S. prison systems are steeped in racial injustice and work to keep a form of slavery in place.
Let her words take flight and open up your imagination and your heart with compassion . . .
By Maya Angelou
Maya Angelou, “Caged Bird” from Shaker, Why Don’t You Sing? Copyright © 1983 by Maya Angelou.