Black History Poetry Event | Peace Through Action USA

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Voice of Remembrance: Understanding Black History Through Spoken Word Poetry | Thursday, February 23, 2023

Peace Through Action USA held a virtual learning event and spoken word poetry performance in honor of Black History Month. The event took place Thursday, February 23, 2023.

Event Description

Voice of Remembrance: Understanding Black History Through Spoken Word Poetry commemorated Black History Month with a unique virtual spoken word poetry performance and community discussion. Guided by a Black law enforcement trainer and National Poetry Slam Champion, this event sought to enhance intercultural connections and amplify public understanding of the historical and contemporary experiences of Black Americans. In viewing this spoken word poetry performance and insightful discussion, participants increased empathy for and appreciation of the African American experience. Viewers surveyed legacies of power imbalances in America and reviewed strategies to fortify social justice efforts in their local areas. This presentation detailed one Black man’s personal process of reflecting upon the past, present, and future with an emphasis on social cohesion, cultural exchange, and intercultural understanding. Participants widened their knowledge of Black History in America, learned strategies to support social justice work in their local communities, explored leading-edge approaches to law enforcement training, and left with a new appreciation for the power of the spoken word to promote peace.

Presenter Biography

Mallary McHenry, of East Akron, Ohio, is a father, National Poetry Slam Champion, Black law enforcement trainer, and accomplished military Veteran who served for 15 years in the United States Army and rose to the rank of Captain after multiple deployments in combat zones abroad. He now operates as the Director of Homeownership for East Akron Neighborhood Development Corporation.

Mallary has performed as a touring spoken word poetry artist for over a decade. He is the recipient of the International Poet of Merit Award and contributed to the world-record holding World’s Longest Poem for Peace. In 2014, he contributed his skills as both a performer and team coach to the Colorado Springs Hear Here National Slam Poetry team that performed poetry around the United States and went on to win Group Piece Finals at the National Poetry Slam. Mallary has also been a member of the Denver Slam Nuba poetry team and performed at the Individuals World Poetry Slam in 2017. He now dedicates his time to amplifying the voices of the younger generation and provides vital guidance for emerging writers and performers.

Mallary brought to this event a special talent for bridging intimate personal experiences with wider cultural legacies through the power of poetry. His unique experiences as a father, military Veteran, and law enforcement trainer provided this event’s commemoration of Black History Month with a necessary and vital perspective. Mallary was motivated to contribute to this event because he strives to open minds with the potency of his voice.

Learning Resources

  • Event Information Sheet
  • Event Presentation
  • Event Recording
  • Promoting Racial Healing: Recommendations of a Dispute Resolution Practitioner personal reflection
  • Watch Mallary McHenry and Chris Walonski, the Director of Programs and Partnerships at Peace Through Action USA, winning Group Piece Finals at the National Poetry Slam together with the poem “Open Carry” in this video (3:26)
  • Mallary McHenry performs his nationally renowned poem “Birds & Bees” in this video (3:36).
  • View Mallary McHenry and Chris Walonski, the Director of Programs and Partnerships at Peace Through Action USA, winning Group Piece Finals at the National Poetry Slam together with a poem about the bystander effect in this video (3:30).
  • Mallary McHenry and Jovan Mays perform “My Mother’s Recipe” in this video (3:22).
  • Explore resources for poetry and youth development from Youth Speaks here.
  • Consider bringing poetry curricula to your school or classroom with resources from Get Lit here.
  • Review resources for learning about Black History Month from the Association for the Study of African American Life and History using this link.
  • Learn more about the history of Black Americans from the nation’s oldest independent African American Museum, The DuSable Black History Museum and Education Center.

Resources and Services in Calvert County, Maryland

About Peace Through Action Events

Peace Through Action Events gather youth and adults of all ages to learn about civic and social topics with a focus on peace. Using delivery methods of subject expert lecture, skills training, film discussion, artistic presentation, reflection, and experiential activities, Peace Through Action Events participants gain knowledge on compassionate living, peaceful practices, and social justice concerns.

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