It was apparent at the poetry slam in H.D. Woodson Senior High School’s library that Jackson was many things to his classmates: a leader, a scholar, a basketball player, a poet.
“He would have been up here running the show,” English teacher Kevin Bjerregaard said.
But now Jackson is other things, too. A warning. And an inspiration.
At a poetry slam in Jackson’s memory in the school library on Thursday afternoon, 18-year-old 11th grader Ebonie Davis read her poem, “The Youth of DC,” that she dedicated to Jackson. In it she writes about the daily horrors of growing up in parts of D.C. or, as she puts it, “the little things, that put an end to our days.”
The poem was dedicated to Jackson, but “it could have been about anyone, basically,” Davis said. “It’s about what’s going on with the youth of DC. People are getting jumped. People are getting killed. It kills everybody’s spirit.”
But Jackson’s mother, NaClick Webb, told students Thursday that they must not let her son’s death impede their resolve to complete their education.
Jackson, an honors student, had been awarded a $50,000 scholarship by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and intended to go to college.
“Keep education first,” Webb said. “It’s the only way to get out.”
Seven students recited original poems at the poetry slam Thursday, and about 300 more were in the audience. Students said the slam was a good way to honor Jackson, whose poem “Benning Road at Night,” ran in the student newspaper printed just days after his death.
“I’m pretty sure he heard us,” 17-year-old Michael Clark said.
Winners of the slam were selected by the student newspaper staff.
The winners were:
For written poetry: Ebonie Davis, Dion Wheeler and Shanita Wilson.
For performance poetry: Ebonie Davis, Queen Dews and Shanita Wilson.
Davis’ poem in memory of Jackson follows.
The Youth of DC
The ones that don’t live to grow old
always die young
at war of ourselves
and our journey has just begun
over little things like hoods and
stepped on jays.
These are the little things
that put an end to our days
Fighting and killing and you don’t
have a clue
You are not just killing that person
but their friends and
Why must the good die young
the ones with a future
the ones with dreams ahead
have come all this way
to be laid on their back
a crimson red.
Our generation has fallen
soldiers falling tight and left
Why must we be pushed off a cliff
to our death.
We’re pushing each other
that’s the issue
come on now young people
what is with you?
But for now I’m going to take a moment
for all those who fallen victim to
in hopes of a better future
for the youth of D.C.