Poet, playwright, and educator Sojourner Kincaid Rolle reads from her new book, Free at Last: A Juneteenth Poem, on Sunday, June 5, at 2 p.m. at Chaucer’s Books (3321 State St.). Poet Laureate of Santa Barbara from 2015-2017, Rolle’s poignant free-verse take on Black American history is a lyrical celebration of Juneteenth — recognized as a symbolic holiday marking the end of slavery in the United States — and is illustrated in kid-friendly fashion by Alex Bostic.
Now celebrating its first year as a national holiday, Rolle said Juneteenth first came to her attention in the late ’80s, when a friend from Texas suggested that they organize a Juneteenth celebration for Santa Barbara. She wrote the poem in 2004, and it has since been used in countless ways by educators, activists, journalists, bloggers, and community organizers. Her words now magnify their impact even further as the poem emerges in this new book designed to teach young readers about this important holiday. See chaucersbooks.com.
After 300 years of forced bondage;
hands bound, descendants of Africa
picked up their souls — all that they owned —
leaving shackles where they fell on the ground,
headed for the nearest resting place to be found.
—From Free at Last: A Juneteenth Poem by Sojourner Kincaid Rolle