June Jordan’s Anti-Apartheid Drafts From South Africa to Palestine



In the fall of 2023, while the Israeli bombs were falling endlessly on Palestinians in Gaza, Amanda Joyce Hall publicized a few lesser-known poems by the amazing June Jordan from her archive. Knowing Amanda’s dedication for internationalism, in particular between South Africa, African America, and Palestine, we asked her if she could weave Jordan’s words with the ongoing movement of solidarity towards a liberated Palestine.

June Jordan Funambulist
Speech given by June Jordan at New York City College on April 8, 1967. / Photo by Amanda Joyce Hall, June Jordan papers at the Harvard Schlesinger Library (2023).

A white kite, the one you made for us, soars so high that youth from Palestine, South Africa, and African America can see it, a message of resistive and collectivized hope. The Israeli state’s murder of Palestinian poet Refaat Alareer on December 6, 2023, in a targeted airstrike was another anguishing inflection point in Israel’s murderous century-long siege on Palestine—counting at least 30,000 civilian murders since the most recent War on Gaza began in October 2023. Alareer, who lived in Gaza alongside his family and taught literature at the Islamic University of Gaza, was one of Palestine’s most important literary voices, consistently using storytelling to draw international attention to the Israeli monstrously violent occupation of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. His poem, If I Must Die, circulated worldwide as people eulogized him, remembering the poem’s harrowing title and its metaphorical kite in the wake of his assassination.