On the first day of my course, "American Voices," I give the students two poems called "America." Walt Whitman, a nineteenth-century white poet, describes America as,
"Centre of equal daughters, equal sons,
...Perennial with the Earth, with Freedom, Law and Love."
Yet, Claude McKay, a Harlem Renaissance poet, writes about America:
"She feeds me bread of bitterness,
And sinks into my throat her tiger's tooth,
Stealing my breath of life."
As a class, we explore the way writers see our country through the lens of their experience. We focus on the importance of lifting all American voices. Afterwards, students create posters that express their own views of America.