Kansas City's Stanley Banks Is Still Asking If America Is Safe
A poem Banks wrote about the beating of Rodney King remains relevant 30 years later. "We've progressed in a terrifying way," he says.
Poet Stanley Banks recalls being stopped by police "just for being around" starting at the age of 16. He lost both his father and one brother to violence. But his grandmother's wisdom kept him on track.
Banks would come to express his emotions and thoughts around the complexity of the Black experience in Kansas City — and America — through poetry. His work has been recognized multiple times including the Langston Hughes Prize for Poetry and a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship/Grant for Creative Writing.
Upon reading “America Are We Safe,” a poem from three decades ago, Banks observes: "It's kind of amazing . . . what you thought was an issue resolved years ago is still being dealt with or brought up again."