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Rahiel Tesfamariam ’09 M.Div. Rahiel Tesfamariam 09 M.Div.: Our Sacred Space

Rahiel Tesfamariam ’09 M.Div., Yale Divinity School’s first William Sloane Coffin Jr. Scholar, composed a poem entitled Our Sacred Space on the occasion of the Middle Passage Conversations conference.  She read the poem at the end of the last panel session on April 5.
The final line of the poem offers a note of thanks to Emilie Townes, the Andrew W. Mellon Professor of African American Religion and Theology, the primary organizer of the conference.

Tesfamariam, raised in the South Bronx and Washington, DC after a childhood in war-torn Eritrea, served until July 2005 as editor-in-chief of The Washington Informer, an African-American owned newspaper circulating in the District of Columbia region.

The Sloane Scholarship is designated for students who exhibit the former Yale chaplain’s "prophetic leadership, his passion for justice, and his critical theological interpretations of the contemporary social and political scene."


Our Sacred Space

By Rahiel Tesfamariam

Honor the sacred space.
Embrace this silent place.
Loose our souls and cry out to the heavens in this place.
Take the sheets off the page.
Engrave our wombs on the page.
Speak of King and the red of Memphis on this bloodthirsty page.
Swallow our tears and carve out a space for freedom on the page.
Cough up our dreams and give voice to generations of Black rage.
Love our Jesus and sing like birds breaking free of the cage.
Like Finney find ways to see through our own eyes in this place.
Like Nelson kneel down into the soul of the earth to gather the dust the world tried to erase.
Like Alexander we too want to smell the ancestors in the aroma of this place.
And because of that we thank you Dr. Emilie Townes for carving out this sacred, spiritual space.

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