Honoring MLK With Obama Rhymes

(CBS/Stephen Smith)
WASHINGTON - Elizabeth Alexander, a native Washingtonian, will recite only the fourth poem in inauguration history Tuesday when Barack Obama is sworn in as president.

But some D.C. public school kids have already beaten her to the poetic punch.

A group of youngsters from an after-school program called DC SCORES recently performed an "Obama poetry slam" at an event marking Martin Luther King's birthday. The performance, which featured a keynote address by MLK's nephew at the Department of Health and Human Services, drew a standing ovation from 300 government employees.

The show, which was dedicated to "Obama" and "change," was the culmination of months of intense practice. Throughout the fall, students immersed themselves in poetry by Maya Angelou and other famous writers. They also got tips on technique and performance from poets and musicians who visited each school.

"Throughout our fall poetry, Obama was all anybody was talking about," said Amy Nakamoto, executive director of DC SCORES, which teaches soccer, poetry and service learning to roughly 700 students in the most underserved neighborhoods in D.C.

"It was the first time that students were this involved and interested," she added.

Elementary students from the Arts and Technology Academy in Ward 7, of Southeast D.C. won first place at a poetry slam competition in December before showcasing their skills at the MLK event.

Below are two of their poems:

Ode to Barack

He's smart, articulate, intelligent, and bright
Witnessing his historical victory was out of sight!
I knew he would be our President right from the start
Because his message of HOPE and CHANGE was from the heart!

He's proven that diligence, hard work, and consistency really pays
And that "Yes we can" is a phrase I could shout for days and days!

I think of Dr. King and his famous speech
And with Barack in the White House I know my dreams are within reach!

Never in our history of these fifty states,
Have we ever bared witness to something that's so great!

Thanks to those that chose to vote
It pays tribute to our ancestors who got off the boat
And makes the Civil rights Movement all worthwhile.
I know Barack's grandmother is up in heaven with a smile!

===

Change is Here.
(a change is coming, a change is coming, a change is coming)

We rocked the vote
We rocked the vote
We rocked the vote
And CHANGE IS HERE!
(a change is coming, a change is coming)

We hope Obama will ease our fears!
(a change is coming, a change is coming)

Economy issues and loss of jobs
(A change is coming, a change is coming)

America feels completely robbed!
(a change is coming, a change is coming)

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac
(a change is coming, a change is coming)

Lost our money and sent us back
(a change is coming, a change is coming) To the days of struggle and strife (a change is coming, a change is coming)

We know there has got to be a better life!
(A change is coming, a change is coming)

HOPE and CHANGE we pray will come
(A change is coming, a change is coming) BECAUSE "out of many, we are one!" (a change is coming, a change is coming, a change is coming) CHANGE IS HERE
  • Stephen Smith

    Stephen Smith is a senior editor for CBSNews.com

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