Emma Lazarus Project

The Emma Lazarus Project explores the story of Emma Lazarus, a fifth-generation American Jew caught in an important turning point in American and Jewish History. The initiative—including an exhibit, curriculum and poetry contest—uses primary sources straight from the archive to encourage students to piece together Emma’s fascinating story, and to join the ongoing conversation about American identity.

Neck of Copper

by Rosetta Serrano

High School



I would hate to have your eyes,

bust open

watching chronicle after chronicle
surrounded by waters darkened
by your textured deja vu.

I see you Miss Liberty.
I see your torch never anything but burnt out with a lack of fulfillment.

Your lamp lit but your arms never outstretched.
So we beat the drum and call our door golden.

The faces of trauma and hope sailing past.
But we know fate is never
in any being’s palm.

I too, know the pain of the symbol
being kept from the virtue itself.

We’ve taken the tired,
the poor.
But they know not
the golden door

is just a golden door.

Rosetta Serrano is 15 years old, born and raised in New York City.