The Undefeated

When I read this book for the first time, it gave me goosebumps. Goosebumps are interesting because they’re a physical sign of the emotions stirring inside you. When I read it, I imagine a different youth reading each page in a spoken word performance. This moving poem is a tribute to Black people who have strived to make America the nation it aspires to be. All the historical references are explained in the Afterword and students could spend days researching each reference.


Social Justice Activities:

  1. This could be a beautiful historical research project where students can co-create knowledge. Students choose people or events from the back of the book to research and share their learning with classmates. Allow students options on how they will demonstrate their learning: google slide, a work of art like a poster or another poem, they can record themselves sharing information on FlipGrid or recite a short paragraph.). After everyone has shared, read the poem again.

  2. To foster unity in your school community, present at an assembly or record a video of different students reading each page with the page itself projected so the audience hears to poem and sees the pages of the book.

Relevant Social Justice Standards:

Justice 13. Students will analyze the harmful impact of bias and injustice on the world, historically and today.

Justice 14. Students will recognize that power and privilege influence relationships on interpersonal, intergroup and institutional levels and consider how they have been affected by those dynamics.

Justice 15. Students will identify figures, groups, events and a variety of strategies and philosophies relevant to the history of social justice around the world.

Reading Strategies:

Poetry Analysis: Why did the author write this poem? Why is this poem important for today? Why can poetry and art be considered a form of activism.

Language: Each stanza starts with, "This is for the _____." Study the author's word choices and how they connect to the individuals and concepts in the book.

Comparing: Compare the non-fiction description for each section in the back to the words of the poem. How is each style important to us as readers?

Book Details:
  • Poetry, Non-fiction, All Ages
  • Perspectives: Black Americans
  • Author's stated heritage: Black
  • Subject Integration: History, Poetry, Art, Music

Book covers images are from publishers and in the public domain