Envisioning a Brighter Future: Regie Gibson’s Letter to America

Megan Swedberg, Scarlet Staff

On January 6, 2021, rioters protesting Joe Biden’s victory in the 2021 election violently stormed the US Capitol, resulting in massive property damage, several deaths, and a ripped seam in the fabric of American politics. Now, a year later, author, poet, songwriter, and educator Regie Gibson provides us with an insightful reflection on the reverberation of this fateful day with a poem titled “An Open Letter to the America That Will Be.” 

Gibson has led a distinguished career, performing and presenting his work in seven countries across North America and Europe. He has worked with many respectable poets and musicians including Gwendolyn Brooks, Roy Ayers, Fareed Haque, David Murray, Mark Strand, and John Legend. His poems have appeared in movie soundtracks, along with anthologies, magazines, and journals such as The Iowa Review, Harvard Divinity Magazine, Spoken Word Revolution, among several others. Additional honors of his include being recognized as a former National Poetry Slam Individual Champion and Chicago Tribune’s Artist of the Year for Excellence, receiving the Golden Pen award for his book of poetry, Storms Beneath the Skin, being nominated for a Boston Grammy, and winning the “Big Boat” international poetry competition in Monfalcone, Italy.

In addition to the impressive and yet incomplete list of accolades above, Gibson has used his literary talent to inspire students in high schools and colleges across the United States through lectures and performances. In fact, he has even taught a few lectures here at Clark.

“An Open Letter to The America That Will Be” reflects the divisive state of American politics, claiming that the country is “polarized in political camps of BLUE and RED” and that “a rift has occurred between us and the lifted WE.” As suggested by these lines, American democracy has evolved into a system of us-versus-them dichotomy, in which political opponents and their followers demonize and harbor resentment towards one another for having different beliefs. Such a system is broken and nonproductive, halting the progress of our nation by keeping critical issues concerning things like health care, immigration, and education from getting addressed. 

At the same time that Gibson’s poem expresses concern over our country’s current state, it conveys hope for a brighter future to come, in which we build bridges over the gaps that divide us and unite. 

But, then, sometimes above the din…we CAN hear you… 
singing in the Voice of our better angels—
reminding us of the highest possible civic good 
we can achieve… 
that of the true patriots’ dream 
of transforming our nation’s jangling discord 
into a beautiful symphony

So, dear America that will be 
we gather today in search of that note…
that note that sounds and feels like the true one: 
The red, white and blue one 
that asks us to rise and raise each other up beyond this hating 
to a space were we can start taking a breath

The idea that we can “hear” a better future lingering around the corner suggests that change is just out of reach, but if we extend our arms out to one another, we can achieve it. Thus, Gibson’s poem is not just a reflective piece, but a call to action. He calls upon us, as members of this nation, to rise above our differences and unite in order to realize the unfulfilled promise of our democracy. 

WE are capable of enacting change.

WE are the writers of our nation’s story. 

WE are The America That Will Be.

It’s time that WE get to work.


To watch Gibson’s expressive performance of “An Open Letter to The America That Will Be,” follow the link: