These many (many) months of quarantine may not have been the most socially stimulating of our lives, but they have provided ample opportunity to step our virtual community up—and to make the best of a socially distanced situation. Then, there have been the pleasant virtual pop-ups—like this time last week, when President Obama surprised the book group co-founded by VSB’s Panama Jackson to talk about his latest memoir, A Promised Land.
For our part, quarantine has also been a fine time to keep our eyes peeled for the rare spotting of a certain ex-pat royal couple. As we’ve previously noted, since relocating to California, Duke and Duchess of Sussex seem to be following in the Obamas’ highly strategic post-presidential footsteps—and would that we could, we would, too (though those are some monumental shoes to fill). In fact, just like our former president, the Sussexes also recently chose to delight an unassuming group of literature lovers, popping up during a meet-up of the California-based youth poetry organization Get Lit last weekend to help celebrate Black History Month.
“Guess who surprised our poetry class this weekend?! It was the best weekend EVER! Prince Harry and Meghan, The Duke and Duchess of Sussex, were magic and kind and interested in poetry!” the group announced on its social media page, adding: “The Duchess even shared some of her favorite poetry lines. We are so grateful for their visit in honor of Black History Month. It goes down as most epic experience in Get Lit history!!!”
We bet—and not to steal any shine from the royals, but Get Lit is pretty epic, in and of itself (and we’re not just saying that because their name sounds like our own literary silo here at The Root—great minds!). Founded in 2006 by poet Diane Luby Lane, Get Lit’s curriculum, founded to promote literacy and inspire creativity through poetry and performance (both classic and spoken word). The program has been immensely successful in the nearly 15 years since, reaching over 50,000 youth each year through performances and over 100 million people online; according to its site, its “poetic ambassadors,” The Get Lit Players, have amassed over 350 million online views. Additionally, the program has partnered with over 100 schools throughout California and is sold to schools all over the world.
Saturday’s online class, led by poet and Get Lit’s Manager of Public Outreach Mason Granger, exposed millions more to the magic of Get Lit, thanks to an approximately 45-minute visit from arguably the world’s most buzzworthy royals.
“My favorite part of it all was Meghan echoing so many sentiments we’ve talked about in class, about this particular moment in time/history to be a young person and the ripple effect of a single voice,” Granger shared on Instagram, adding: “The root of them deciding to come is because at some point in their lives, they were moved by a poem. And whoever wrote that poem at some point thought to themselves, ‘Does this even matter? Is anyone even listening?’ And they shared it anyway. Fast forward ripple ripple ripple and these kids get a surprise 45-minute chat with Prince Harry and Meghan. It was pretty surreal.”
And as Granger further noted, the royals respectfully did their homework before visiting with the budding poets, engaging in a genuine exchange with the class.
“My kids shared poems, they asked questions, the kids answered and asked questions back, they responded authentically (they actually read and learned the kids bios I’d sent earlier),” said Granger. “I just want to say that the Get Lit Players are brilliant and 10/10 would recommend The Duke and Duchess of Sussex for your next Zoom poetry practice.”
Well, we may not be up-and-coming adolescent wordsmiths, but if the Sussexes ever want to drop by The Root Presents: It’s Lit! podcast, our door is always open.