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  • NYS Writers Institute

On the occasion of Martin Luther King Jr. Day

A poem to mark Martin Luther King Jr. Day by Gwendolyn Brooks, the first African-American woman inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters. She visited the NYS Writers Institute at the University at Albany in 1989.


Martin Luther King Jr.

By Gwendolyn Brooks


A man went forth with gifts.


He was a prose poem.

He was a tragic grace.

He was a warm music.


He tried to heal the vivid volcanoes.

His ashes are

reading the world.


His Dream still wishes to anoint

the barricades of faith and or control.


His word still burns the center of the sun,

above the thousands and the

hundred thousands.


The word was Justice. It was spoken.


So it shall be spoken.


So it shall be done.