What does justice look like to you? What can you envision for the future? What do you want to see? Share your story of justice in words, images, and reflections.


Created by the Wick Poetry Center
at Kent State University

I want to transform pain into promise.
I want justice to guide my every breath.
I want to see my fate as yours –
each of us, like painted glass, joined together,
fitted into a patchwork.
I offer my hands to mend the walls of the house of prayer,
to stitch and repair the torn hem of our democracy.
I offer my feet to march toward fairness and equality,
my shoulders to carry my brothers and sisters.
I offer not an easy hope, but a muscular one,
a hope soldered in my chest.
My voice chisels words of justice into hearts and minds,
echoes off stone vaulted ceilings during Evensong.
My voice is not afraid to speak up and stand out.
My voice is a double-bell trumpet in harmony for peace.
My voice is an instrument of change.
Together, we grasp our hands in an unbreakable union.
Together, we glaze and cement our lives
in mosaic-stained glass.
Together, we speak through our wounds
to tell a new story, a freedom story,
now and forever.

By removing these windows, the Cathedral took the first step among many toward telling a more accurate story about who we have been, who we are now, and most importantly who we aspire to be.

Cathedral Dean
The Very Rev. Randolph
Marshall Hollerith

This is a complete but not complete story; the story doesn’t end in these windows. This is about freedom on the move. That’s the story this Cathedral needs to be telling, the story that we need to be a part of, because God’s story is a freedom story. 

Cathedral Canon Theologian
The Rev. Canon Kelly
Brown Douglas


At the Washington National Cathedral in Washington, D.C.


The Freedom Story community poem was created by the Wick Poetry Center at Kent State University in celebration of the unveiling of the Now and Forever Windows at the Washington National Cathedral on September 23, 2023. The Cathedral engaged world-renowned visual artist Kerry James Marshall to create the windows and acclaimed poet Elizabeth Alexander to write an original poem, “American Song,” which will be engraved in stone below the windows. 

The Cathedral’s Now and Forever Windows capture the resilience, faith and endurance of African Americans and our nation’s struggle with the original sins of racism and slavery. The new windows and poetry grew out of a decision in 2017 to permanently remove windows in the Washington National Cathedral that honored Confederate Generals Robert E. Lee and Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson. Through this new addition, the Cathedral aims to tell a broader, more inclusive story of American history— a place where everyone sees their story reflected in the Cathedral’s art and iconography.


Traveling Stanzas community arts projects bring poetry to people’s everyday lives through innovative methods and digital platforms. The Wick Poetry Center at Kent State University, home to the award-winning Traveling Stanzas project, is one of the premier university poetry centers in the country. It is a national leader for the range, quality, and innovative outreach in the community.