Fifteen local poets gathered for a community reading Wednesday night as part of Black Poets Speak Out, a poetry-driven protest that began after the death of Michael Brown in 2014.
Photojournalist Tom Baker captured the performances at the Penumbra Theatre in St. Paul held in response to the shooting death of Philando Castile last week in Falcon Heights, Minn.
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Poets Meah Ismail and Michael Kleber-Diggs embrace on stage at the end of the performance. "I have always lived with the understanding that being black there's a level of inequality that I'm going to have to endure," Ismail said. "But watching somebody black be murdered on a live feed on the internet in 2016 as I'm about to birth a black child myself is very unnerving for me because I have to understand the reality that that could be my son, that could be my dad, that could be my brother, that could even be myself."
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Sarah Ogutu performs her poem "Hey Lady" during Black Poets Speak Out, July 13, 2016. "If words have the power of life and death then when no one speaks, this must just be death."
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A woman in the audience listens intently. The event was held exactly one week after Castile was shot and killed by a St. Anthony police officer during a traffic stop in which Castile's girlfriend broadcast the aftermath via Facebook. Next Slide
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