'I love to make a positive impact on others’ lives because I never know what anyone is going through'

Get to know Johnathan Douglas, a student-athlete, poet and Legacy Scholar.

Johnathan Douglas
Kathleen Murphy Photography

This interview is part of the Building a Legacy series by Alysha Carlisle and Mackenzie Rutherford, highlighting Rochester’s youth of color.

Johnathan Douglas is a student, athlete, and as of recently, a poet. This entry of the Building a Legacy Series is focused on Douglas’ poetry and the world around him that inspires it.

"Endless Madness" by Johnathan Douglas

With the thing called life, we are stuck in an endless cycle


Our futures are written before we can even speak

I hear the school bell and instantly shriek

I am late. What will happen? This is my 3rd time

I treat this as if I committed a serious crime


The teacher’s potent glare is apparent

I act as if I am transparent

I have to meet her after class

It seems that these letter grades determine my worth in society


Which in turn causes unneeded anxiety

Following this general rule of not being late more than three times makes me want to rebel

Telling my mother I lost 10 points today, guess I can tell the world farewell

I feel as if I am overthinking and it’s not as bad as it seems


For some reason, I feel like I forgot a bad dream

I confront my mother who already knows

I saw the belt in her hand and froze

Ah, yes, last time this happened I couldn’t sit for a week


I tell my mom in code which is unique

Only we know the meaning but the pain made me misspeak

I am overcome with sadness

I hate school I can’t take this madness


Tell me a little bit about yourself.

I am originally from Eufaula, Alabama, but I grew up in McDonough, Georgia. I love to cook, I love to make other people happy. I love to make a positive impact on others’ lives because I never know what anyone is going through. I love to watch anime. I love to travel.

My family is very sports-oriented. It was either football or joining the band for us. I did both. I played percussion but ended up picking sports over band because I felt like I had to choose one. But I still love music and art.

What was your inspiration behind writing "Endless Madness"?

I always feel like school isn’t really helping younger generations. I had a teacher this semester who opened my eyes to understanding that real learning is more important than just retaining information. School prepares you to listen to rules rather than inspire creativity. How society sees school and how family members can play into that pressure and stress. I just wanted to write about what that feels like from a student’s perspective.

When did you realize you like writing?

I never really explored writing outside of an assignment until recently. I also never really realized I had a gift for writing. The only time I remember doing something really good was in ninth grade. It was a creative biology assignment. We had a month and a half to do it but I didn’t do it until second period on the day of, so I decided to do a poem. But I got 100 percent. That’s when I realized I could actually write. I still haven’t written much out of enjoyment. My girlfriend has always said I should write more. But I’m working on exploring it more as a hobby.

What are you excited about in your future?

Right now I’m studying liberal arts at RCTC, but I’m excited to transfer to a four-year university. I’m just really excited to see where the Lord takes me and what connections I make. I never would’ve thought I’d be up in Rochester making some of my closest friends. So I’m excited to see what other connections are ahead.

Mackenzie Rutherford is a native of Rochester and a graduate of John Marshall High School. She spent her recent years attaining her B.A. at Scripps College in Claremont, California, and her M.S. at SOAS University of London. She is a staff member at Project Legacy and a freelance social media strategist.

Alysha Carlisle is originally from Oakland, California. She graduated with her BSW in 2021 and now serves as a social worker at Project Legacy and a research coordinator at Mayo Clinic.

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