It is vitally important that you know that this began as a memorial for Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and Ahmaud Arbery. Their murders resonated through a Black community exhausted by increasingly public, racially-motivated murders that emphasized what the Black community already knew to be true—that our Blackness made us disposable, and that our disposal was state-sanctioned.

I felt frustrated, angry, and above all, helpless. I wanted to shake the very foundations of this country with my anger; I wanted to knock on every door and change every mind. But I couldn’t. After a conversation with the director the MFA program I had just graduated from, I realized what I could do: share Black stories.

Inspired by the Black tradition of oral stories and the indispensable #SayHerName and Black Lives Matter Movements, the WE HAVE VOICES reading series seeks to celebrate Black lives before they’re taken, and to bring Central Florida together around poetry and prose from Black creatives.


Audi Barnes is a Black writer from Florida with an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Central Florida. She primarily writes poetry, essay, and cross-genre works.