Teach This Poem: "Black Laws" by Roger Reeves
Produced for K-12 educators, Teach This Poem features one poem a week from our online poetry collection, accompanied by interdisciplinary resources and activities designed to help teachers quickly and easily bring poetry into the classroom. The series is written by our Educator in Residence, Dr. Madeleine Fuchs Holzer, and is available for free via email.
- Show your students the above photograph, and ask them what they know about the Black Lives Matter movement. Have them fill in the gaps in their knowledge by conducting research on the movement by getting into small groups and using Internet and library resources (one place to start is the article “Black Lives Matter: The Growth of a New Social Justice Movement” from Blackpast.org). Ask each group to report back to the class what they have learned.
- Project the poem “Black Laws” by Roger Reeves in the front of the classroom, and ask your students to read it silently. Invite two students to read the poem out loud, one after the other. Ask the listeners to write down words and phrases in the poem that rhyme. What jumps out at your students? What do they learn about the meaning of the poem from what they have noticed? What kinds of rhymes have they found? What function do the rhymes serve in the reading of the poem?
- Why do your students think the speaker in the poem is putting on his “nice suit?” What does he expect will happen to him? Ask your students to justify their answers with reference to specific details and images in the poem.
- How might the events that led to the Black Lives Matter movement relate to Reeves’s poem?