Video by Josh Davis (undocumentary.tumblr.com)

Last week, we brought a group of high school youth to the Immigration Committee meeting at the NC Legislature when undocumented youth, including Uriel Alberto, stood up declaring themselves undocumented and unafraid. Most of them had never seen someone declare their status publicly, let alone in front of such a hostile crowd. When Uriel stood up and said, “My name is Uriel Alberto. I am undocumented and I am unafraid. I refuse to be bullied and intimidated by this committee and choose to empower my community” he truly did just that–Uriel empowered the youth that were in that meeting with him, and countless others who have seen the videos, read the blogs, articles, and everything that has happened since.

One of the youth present that day was Jaime, or “Li’l James” as we lovingly call him, a freshman at Carrboro High School. Jaime was incredibly moved by Uriel’s strength and resilience and decided to write a poem about what it meant to be undocumented in the committee meeting that day. He reflected on Uriel’s continued detention and hunger strike. He presented it at a local open mic presented by The Sacrificial Poets, an event that usually draws a big crowd.

Originally, Jaime was going to present his poem with another youth. And when she said she was unsure and nervous about it, Jaime encouraged her by telling her a story about going to an amusement park with his friends. He had never been on a roller coaster before and was terrified ahead of time, but he forced himself to do it. His mind changed once he was on the roller coaster and having the time of his life. Jaime told his friend, “I bet it’ll be like that, super scary before hand, but in the end it’ll feel awesome!” On the way to the open mic event, Jaime was nervous about not only coming out publicly for the first time, but also about reading a poem in front of a large crowd. I told him his own roller coaster story and he shot back at me, “that’s my story, you can’t use it on me!”

Jaime’s poem (as you can see above) was a big hit and he walked off that night with the biggest smile I’ve seen. As we were walking out, I asked him if it was like his roller coaster story and he said it was. Jaime feels so happy that he did it, and finished his poem by passing out flyers asking the audience to take action for Uriel. I’ll ask you to do the same, on behalf of Li’l James. Sign the petition and call ICE ( (202.732.3000).

Uriel took action in order to empower his peers, like Jaime. Now let’s empower ourselves to take action for Uriel.

Join Jaime, the hunger strikers from Winston-Salem, and our community this Friday in front of the Wake County Jail as we hold a vigil for Uriel. And for more empowering spoken word, go see Poetic Portraits of A Revolution at the Carrboro ArtsCenter this Thursday, Saturday or Sunday. A group of us went last Friday after a press conference for Uriel, and we left feeling rejuvenated and motivated to keep fighting.

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