Black Joy Poetry Contest – 2024 Youth Winners Announced

After reviewing dozens of submissions, we are proud to announce the winners of the 2024 Black Joy Youth Poetry Contest!

The Black Joy Poetry Contest was created by Manchester’s Poet Laureate Emeritus Ryan Parker in partnership between the Department of Race & Equity and the Town of Manchester’s Neighborhoods & Families Division and offered Manchester students grades K-12 the opportunity to submit a poem that “speaks to the beauty and brilliance Black folx originate from and currently consist of!”

All poetry submissions were reviewed by a committee of local poets, including the Department of Race & Equity’s Race & Equity Coordinator, Ryan Parker, and Poet Laureate Nadia Sims. Please enjoy the below winning poems and honorable mentions from this year’s Black Joy Poetry Contest.

Please click here for the names & grades of all youth submissions for this year’s Black Joy Poetry Contest. We look forward to your participation again next year and encourage you to celebrate Black joy and Black history EVERY month!

Please note that all poems are preserved in their original form as submitted by each student and/or teacher.

Contest Winners (2024)

Poet: Kapembwa Janet Sichongo (Grade 11)

O joy

What is joy?

Joy is the feeling after getting fresh cornrows or braids

It’s the feeling of smelling my favorite meal from down the street

The feeling of the sun hitting my face just in time so I can take that selfie

O joy is to be black

Joy is the feeling of watching Lauren Hill win a Grammy and tearing up

It’s watching Dr. Dre, Kendrick Lamar, Snoop Dogg, and Mary J. Blige rock the Super Bowl and

wishing I was there

It’s listening to Peng black girls by Enny and feeling seen by her lyrics

O joy is to be proud

Joy is seeing my people winning or losing, succeeding or failing

It’s finding people who look like me and who want to see me succeed

It’s being able to speak my truth, my way

O joy is supportive

Joy is someone asking me where I’m from and getting excited to shout about my country

Joy is wearing a bonnet as soon as I get home because it’s my comfort

Joy is my mother tongue

O to be young, gifted, and Black

O my joy is being Black, it’s Black joy.


Poet: Jayla Jones (Grade 12)

Strength Within Beauty

From roots deep in history,

To modern waves of artistry.

Music, dance, and poetry

All these different,

Expressions of identity.

Blasting rhythms, so sweet. 

Leaving lasting art and fashion trends,

that never fail to compete.

Black beauty, found in every shade.

Confidence and power,

That never fades.

Embracing the curls, and the kinks.

Without sharing a passing blink.

Black beauty shines,

Through and through.

Showing its history of strength.

Within all its lengths.

Poet: Isabella Lagos (Grade 12)

My Friend’s Black Joy

I had a friend, who was so true

Filled with joy, knew her value

Her laughter, a melody sweet and bold

With every moment, a story told

In her eyes, a hopeful light

Guides her friends through darkest nights

Her words, convincing, never wrong

Filled with rhythm, like a song

Her joy, a beacon, shining bright

Destroying shadows, embracing light

Through trials and triumphs, and all that stands

Breaks down, one by one, with her hand

With a caring soul, and a mind so smart

Her black joy, so sure, and full of heart

In friendship’s embrace, that will never end

I’m proud to call her my friend.

Poet: Connor Lavoie (Grade 11)

Let’s Pick Up Where They Left Off

I might not be a part of the minority

but making sure they’re supported is a priority

If you disagree you should question yourself morally

There should be no superiority

there should only be unity

We should all come together, a community.

The amount of racism in this world is abnormal

Why is it impossible to just be formal

Martin Luther King and Harriet Tubman

The impact they’ve made should never be forgotten

Every speech every word making sure they were heard

Their legacy will live on forever standing tall for those to observe

Many influential leaders paved the way

Breaking barriers day by day

So many messages to convey

They fought hard making sure everyone can hear what they say

Speeches live on forever, constantly on replay

Many so impactful they are still heard today

Bessie Coleman, first black pilot to ever take flight

Marsha Johnson fought for the LGBTQ to have their rights

Ruby Bridges helped people come together

Ella Baker helped fight against those who tried to oppress her

Even if they aren’t here with us their words will stay forever

They fought back against every suppressor

They didn’t get scared from the pressure

Someone will pick up where they left off and become a successor


Poet: Joseph Ofori – Mintah (Grade 11)

Black History is Everyday!

I am Black

My melanated skin glows in the sun

My melanated skin protects me from the sun

My melanin acts like a shield

It keeps the bad away

And preserves the beauty inside

The beauty of our ancestors show in our skin

We stand out

We’re not like the rest

We’re the best

We’re like black Jaguars in a jungle full of spotted leopards

We turn heads

And Live on the legacy of our dead

Our history lives in us everyday

We never forget our trauma

Our dark skin is a reminder of how unique we are

Were mystique

We’re peak

We don’t reek

Black History Month???


We celebrate with LEMONADE

Because Black History is everyday.


Poet: Ma’Ki Reid (Grade 8)

Black Boy Joy

My joy be basketball playing for the Knights.

My joy be hearing swishes.

My joy be tasting pizza.

My Joy be feeling happy.

My Joy be going to Paris.

My Joy be looking at Greatness!

Poet: Caison Simms (Grade 1)

My Beautiful Locs

I have locs

My locks are beautiful;

They are dyed brown

My locs are like my moms

My locs are me

I have locs

Poets: Maria Hoyos Arbelaez and Kimberly Mata (Grade 4)

A Beautiful Day

A day to spread joy in Black and white peoples faces

To put a smile on somebody.

Love to spread and fun to

Have and justice to keep

and sadness to keep out.

A day when you can feel great and always feel great.

we love our skin color

because we are the best.

Poet: Room 04 – Highland Park (Grade 1)

Black Joy

Black skin is beautiful, beautiful Black people

Love learning about Black People-Ruby Bridges & rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

All people together as friends

Celebrate Black History and come celebrate with us!

Kindness means love holding hands together

Joy is having friends and being nice and all about love

Our community is diverse, our class comes together

You can do your best and you should be proud of who you are!

Poet: Noella Georges (Grade 1)

Daddy is my Hero

Daddy is a Black hero who is beautiful, brilliant and excellent.

My Dad is beautiful because he is loving and cares for my whole family.

My Daddy is brilliant because he is super funny and intelligent.

My Daddy is excellent because of his creativity when he made me a tiny pantry.

My Dad is a beautiful, brilliant and excellent hero who makes me feel loved,

cared for and comfortable.


Honorable Mentions (2024)

Jayce Estremera (Grade 4)

Joy of Rosa Parks










Poet: Kaydence Prude (Grade 7)

Black Joy

My Black joy is to watch movies also do fun actives

My Black joy is to listen to Rod Wave (calm) or 0t7Quanny (rap)

My Black joy is smelling my moms cooking and also smelling


My Black joy is to taste crab legs and also eat healthy

My Black joy is giving people hugs and swimming also running

My Black joy is going to Urban Air and parks

My Black joy is to see my family happy and having fun

Poet: Jocelyn Osei (Grade 4)

The Magic of Martin

Martin was born, 1929, blacks were not fine,

black were tossed around, tossed on the ground.

Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, heard the bells ring,-

Saved everyone but it wasn’t really fun.

He was loyal , super duper and  royal.

Helped us, and took no bus.

He was the one and only son, come on everyone!

White tried to be slackers, that wasn’t cool.

Martin wouldn’t let that happen just because he was blacker.

Martin didn’t want anybody to feel pain-

So he changed the world with his mighty mighty brain.

White thought he was cray but the white’s hearts had a dirty stain…

Blacks crying and praying, people obeying, you know what I’m saying.

People being bit, people being sprayed,

Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King said this was not okay.

Martin married Coretta Scott,

Martin loved her a whole lot!

Poet: Jeniva Roy (Grade 4) 

Black Gives Us Joy

A beautiful day to spread joy around

The world and give smiles on Black and white faces

As faces give us joy

As freedom gives us happiness

As happiness gives us luck.

We stand together fighting for civil rights

As years go on we keep fighting with love

Not guns or darts.

We held signs up for freedom

And fought for our rights as the years passed on.

We never gave up and never will.

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