She Inspired A Generation Of Poets With Her Honesty

June Jordan portrait
Shonda Buchanan
December 15, 2020

He grabbed her from behind and forced her to the floor. This was the last thing she expected! She was writing, alone, at a retreat she thought was safe from racism and misogyny. 

As the rapist attacked her, she refused to scream – determined not to give him the satisfaction he sought.

June Jordan’s poetry and teaching had changed the lives of her U.C. Berkeley students; she was a powerful voice for the underserved, challenging injustice everywhere. 

But what would these next few moments do to her? Would this tragedy rob her of that power?

Her work as a poet of the people, as a Black woman resistance fighter, flew through her mind. She decided that he could take her body, but he would not take her soul!

She maintained her dignity in the face of this unspeakable act – enduring it, transforming it. Into what?

Poetry. She turned this terrible moment into one of her most famous poems, inspiring Black women everywhere, in hopes that women worldwide would know rape was not their fault.

Instead of letting trauma control our fate, we can transform our pain and trauma into power, practice self-determination, and achieve Black liberation beyond our oppression!

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