2021 Sojourner Scholars Mood Tracker Poetry Project

The Sojourner Scholars Mood Tracker Poetry Project was developed during a three week summer seminar exploring the life and legacy of our beloved poet Gwendolyn Brooks, with Second Year Sojourner Scholars, facilitated by award winning poets Nicole Bond and Dr. Tara Betts.

Using the Gwendolyn Brooks epic collection of work Blacks, published by Third World Press, the Scholars embarked on a literary journey to include stops at historical events, visits to Chicago landmarks of the past and present, and introductions to important figures and complex characters. All vividly captured in the poems, The Chicago Defender Sends a Man to Little Rock Fall 1957, The Chicago Picasso, The Wall, Paul Robeson, of De Witt Williams on his way to Lincoln Cemetery, a song in the front yard and many others.

Learn more and read the Scholars’ original poems

Scholar Alpheaus McCoy speaking at a poetry workshop led by author Tara Betts.

“From the speakers, the field trips, and the curriculum itself, Sojourner Scholars is a program that doesn’t just invest in its students’ education, it actively cares about their well-being as people.”

–Ru’Gia Jones, Sojourner Scholars Alumnus


Sojourner Scholars provides high school students from four South Side Chicago Public School high schools the opportunity to take college level courses with local university and college faculty over the course of three summers, beginning the summer following their freshman year.

During the first two summers of the program, students study literature, U.S. history, philosophy, and art history. In the final summer, students embark upon a research-intensive capstone project that draws upon local, community-based archives and resources.

Upon successfully completing all three summer sessions, students earn eight college credits in the humanities that they can transfer to any two or four-year college or university.

In addition to the summer sessions, year-round programming is available to the students in the form of book groups, art making workshops, field trips, internships, and college advising.

“One of the most memorable experiences from Sojourner Scholars was learning about and researching mass incarceration. Listening to presentations from people impacted by mass incarceration helped me gain perspective about what’s going on in the world and the challenges people face.”

–Amir Camper, Sojourner Scholars Alumnus

Scholar Kaliyah Harris shares her definition of freedom at Sojourner Scholars’ Presentation Night with instructors Christophe Ringer and Miriam Petty listening in.

Frequently Asked Questions

Sojourner Scholars’ instructor Damon Locks and Scholars Shakira Smith, Khyndal Henderson and Thomas Garrett during a Sojourner Scholars end-of-session presentation night celebration.

“One of the most rewarding experiences through Sojourner Scholars has been seeing students feel more confident in expressing themselves as a direct result of the material we’ve worked through with them.”

–Maddy Klein, Sojourner Scholars Intern



Audrey Petty is a co-founder of the Sojourner Scholars Program. She has taught creative writing and literature at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Northwestern University, Portland State University, Knox College, and in the Prison + Neighborhood Arts/Education Project. She is the editor of High Rise Stories: Voices from Chicago Public Housing (Voice of Witness/McSweeney) and co-editor of The Long Term: Resisting Life Sentences, Working Toward Freedom (Haymarket Press). Her work has been featured in ColorLines, Saveur, Oxford American, African American Review, Callaloo, Gravy, The Chicago Neighborhood Guidebook (Belt Press), and other publications.

Teaching Faculty

Anwuli Anigbo, Invisible Institute

Kian Bergstrom, Roosevelt University

Brian Colar, University of Illinois at Chicago

Dr. Erica Davila, Lewis University

Jo de Presser (aka Marlon Billups), Honeypot Performance

Valentina Gamboa-Turner, Northeastern Illinois University

Abra Johnson, Honeypot Performance

Damon Locks, Prison + Neighborhood Arts/Education Project

Patric McCoy, Diasporal Rhythms

Meida McNeal, Honeypot Performance

Dr. Miriam Petty, Northwestern University

Trina Reynolds-Tyler, Invisible Institute

Dr. Christophe Ringer, Chicago Theological Seminary

Sarah Ross, Prison + Neighborhood Arts/Education Project

Dr. Tiffany Trent, University of Chicago

Dr. Simone WallerReed College

Dr. Catherine Weidner, Lake Forest College

Dr. Rebecca Zorach, Northwestern University