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Woman Uses Poetry On MLK Day To Find Peace During Violence

CHICAGO (CBS) – On this day of honor for Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. many choose to volunteer or study his work.

Some are showing their respect through words.

This year's MLK observance finds many in the country at a crossroads, struggling with neighborhood violence and police shootings.

At a rally on the West Side, many voiced their frustrations.

One woman in the crowd spoke to CBS 2's Vince Gerasole about poetry bringing peace to her life during a violent time.

"I am the American dream – a black woman and I am angry," said Arewa Karen Winters, of Washington Park.

Spoken word is really just performing poetry.

"When I open my mouth, my soul stumbles out wounded by the tragedies – hurting for the families," Winters said.

Arewa Karen Winters comes from one of those families.

"Too many black lives have been lost a debt and caused reparations can never repay," Winters said.

She knows her nephew Pierre Loury was caught up in unnecessary violence, reportedly armed and fleeing authorities, but the fact he was fatally shot by an officer haunts her.

"I lost many loved ones, but all of them put together, I have not been as traumatized," Winters said.

At first Winters began to protest, but a picture of het from a rally haunted her too.

"I looked at this picture," Winters said. "I said, I am an angry black woman. I am mad."

She did not like what she saw.

"I refuse to blame police misconduct, lack of accountability and violent aggression in our communities," Winters said. "Without this anger eating away at me inside, I have to find some art to get some of it out, because I don't want to fester it."

She found her voice in spoken word.

"Even in my anger, I have found peace and liberty," she said.

On this day, when the nation comes together to honor the racial injustices tackled by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Winters performs her pieces, pausing to reflect on his teachings.

"He was astounding," she said. "I don't think we take it for granted, but I don't think we build on them enough."

Winters said hers is a push now to bring everyone from all backgrounds together. And she wishes there was another charismatic leader like Dr. King leading the call today.

She recognizes the power of peaceful protest, but said art can be just as important in spreading the word.

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