Luke Cage Tells It Like It Is

by Gary Jackson

Photo by Ben Chrisman

Writing Workshop

Workshop Title: Cage

Step 1

Have your students read the following article. Then discuss it. What points does it make about heroes like Luke Cage and Black Panther?

Step 2

Read “Luke Cage Tells It Like It Is” by Gary Jackson. When you’re done, briefly discuss the poem and how the speaker (Luke Cage) feels about the issues you touched upon earlier.

Step 3

Say, “Reflect on another character who was created under similar pretenses. Who are they? Would they harbor the same feelings as Luke Cage? Write down as many ideas as you can.” Then give them a few minutes to brainstorm.

Step 4

Have your students compose a poem similar in sentiment and style to “Luke Cage Tells It Like It Is” by Gary Jackson in which they write from the perspective of a fictional character about their origins/depiction in media.

Step 5

When the students are done, have them share their responses with one another.

The full presentation may be found HERE.

Analytical Lesson

Area of Focus: Various

Step 1

This lesson allows students to analyze various concepts and skills, so it is recommended that you have covered several of the “standalone” lessons before assigning this one.

Step 2

Start by watching the following trailer to Marvel’s Luke Cage.

Step 3

Read the article from Vox about the release of the Luke Cage series on Netflix and the history behind the comic & show.

Step 4

Read “Luke Cage Tells It How It Is” by Gary Jackson. As you are reading, ask your students to pay particular attention to the elements of the poem that reflect the sentiments or opinions from the Vox article. When you’re done reading, briefly discuss.

Step 5

Ask your students to open the following document and go over the instructions with them. In this assignment, your students are going to analyze “Luke Cage Tells It How It Is” by finding historical examples of Luke Cage’s depiction over the years and linking them to specific elements of the poem. When you’ve gone over the directions, give your students time to work.

Step 6

When your students are done, have a few of them share their findings with the rest of the class. What images did they find? How do they reflect the sentiment of the poem and the feelings of the speaker? Briefly discuss as a class.

Step 7

If time permits, share the exemplar essay.

Lesson Details

Lesson Info


  • Various


  • Class
  • Community / Culture
  • Creativity / Imagination / Writing
  • History
  • Race / Ethnicity / Racism
  • Social Movements / Protest
  • Violence

Literary Tags

  • Diction
  • Figurative Language
  • Imagery
  • Selection of Detail
  • Structure
  • Tone

Content Warning

  • Racism or Racial Slurs