A Penny for your Thoughts

This is a poem to get you thinking about how something that seems worthless is actually worth more then you think it is.

By Jael V. from Project Citizen in Connecticut

African-Americans are as valuable as copper

pennies were in 1752

and like the penny,

African-Americans were drained of

their value.

If you see a penny on the floor, you wouldn’t pick it up

because it was worth less,

but if it was a quarter or a dime you would probably pick it up

because it's worth more.

Just like how the slaves are pennies,

and how their masters are the quarters and dimes.

But what makes a white man that whips other HUMAN BEINGS:

a quarter or a dime?

But these quarters and dimes don't care about

the precious pennies that cry and they want to die at night.

In the world of loose change, we try so hard to pick out the pennies from the mix. 

Purge our pockets.

At the end of the day we’re still coins and

we still have value no matter what the cost is.

Before the penny had Abraham Lincoln

the face of the penny was a lady with long luscious hair

and she represented freedom,

and this was in slavery times.

It’s crazy how the only coin they had was a symbol of freedom.

It's also crazy how they bought our freedom with a freedom coin.

Then in 1909 Abraham Lincoln became the face of the penny

and he abolished slavery in America.

He did something great for the slaves

and they gave him a colored coin

and the colored coin is worth less

than the other coins…

So ask yourself: Would you pick up a penny off the floor?

If not, why not?

Is it because of the color of penny?

Do you even see it there?

Is it noticed? Or would you just step on it and go past?

Just like how the slaves were when they were picking cotton in the bushes to make your clothes

Just how the slave wasn't noticed as a person

Just like how the slaves were stepped on, kicked, spit on, and hanged for something they didn't

do or because they tried to get away

Get away from all those things

Just trying to get away from all the danger.

All from the white man's anger.

So ask yourself, again: Would you pick up a penny off the floor?


Project Citizen

Project Citizen '19

Project Citizen is a youth writing lab that is offered as part of the Connecticut Writing Project at Fairfield University. The mission of Project Citizen is to empower young writers to engage in issues of social and political importance through a variety of genres in order to both find their voice and to become fully realized citizens in our democracy. Project Citizen brings together students from school districts and towns in Fairfield county that represent a variety of economic, racial, ethnic, and religious demographic groups in an effort to break down the "zip code apartheid" that stands in the way of true collaborative learning.

More letters from Connecticut

Surprise Me

Writing Our Future: American Creed is part of the National Writing Project’s family of youth publishing projects, all gathered under the Writing Our Future initiative.

Writing Our Future projects are designed by educators for educators and the young people they work with. Intended for use in schools, libraries, and other educational settings. All projects are COPPA compliant and educator-managed. NWP is committed to supporting young people’s writing and civic participation by providing a safe and supportive environment for youth writing, media creation, sharing, and publishing.