33 pages 1 hour read

Kwame Alexander

The Undefeated

Fiction | Poem | Adult | Published in 2019

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African American History

Alexander conceived of “The Undefeated” when Barack Obama was elected president in 2008. For Alexander and many others, President Obama’s election was a moment of hope and change, as it marked something many people thought would never happen: the election of an African American President of the United States.

“The Undefeated” matches this feeling of optimism that President Obama’s election brought. The poem also strives to achieve two goals that marked the social justice movement of the 2010s: empower Black identity and bluntly challenge historical and contemporary injustices. These goals have always been part of the civil rights and social justice movements, but with the rise of social media in the 2000s, and especially with the Black Lives Matter movement of the 2010s, these goals infused the movement with a tone and energy that reached more people than in the past, bringing these important issues to the forefront of conversation.

With any aspect of the social justice movement, it is important to understand how history has informed the present. One thing that has always been a feature of conversation about African American history is the history of oppression and subjugation African Americans have experienced in America. While this is an important part of African American history to understand and discuss, “The Undefeated” seeks to highlight the beauty and power of African Americans throughout history.