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Dolores Kendrick

Dolores Kendrick

Second Poet Laureate to the District of Columbia

Dolores Kendrick (1927-2017) wasn't just a poet; she was a vibrant tapestry woven with the threads of D.C.'s history, culture, and spirit. Born and raised in the city, Kendrick's journey intertwined with its evolving landscape, shaping her voice and fueling her passion for giving voice to untold stories.

"I don’t believe poetry should be a solitary intellectual adventure. It should be a relationship with people, it should forge a connection. Good poetry does not belong to the poet." -Dolores Kendrick

Her early years were steeped in education, earning a teaching certificate from Miner's Teacher's College and master's degree from Georgetown University before embarking on a distinguished career as an educator. But it was in the world of words that Kendrick truly flourished. Her poems pulsed with raw emotion and captivating narratives, often drawing inspiration from the lived experiences of Black women, particularly those enslaved. Works like The Women of Plums, a poetic tapestry weaving voices from slavery, earned her critical acclaim and cemented her place as a powerful force in African American literature.

Beyond her writing, Kendrick actively engaged with the D.C. community. She was a part of a group of educators who founded the School Without Walls, an innovative high school focused on experiential learning, and served as the second poet laureate of the District of Columbia, using her platform to elevate the voices of local poets and champion the power of the spoken word. Her commitment to social justice resonated throughout her work, from advocating for racial equality to amplifying the struggles of marginalized communities.

Dolores Kendrick's impactful contributions to Washington D.C. illuminate her legacy, celebrating her multifaceted endeavors. Through her poetry, Kendrick became a champion of diverse voices, giving expression to the often marginalized narratives of Black women, particularly those who were enslaved, thus fostering empathy and understanding within her audience. As an esteemed educator and co-founder of the School Without Walls, she nurtured young minds, instilling a love of learning and empowering students to think critically and engage actively with their community. Additionally, as the second poet laureate of D.C., Kendrick elevated the arts by championing the city's literary scene, connecting with various communities and tirelessly promoting the transformative power of poetry as a means of expression and connection.

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