Celebrating Black Excellence: Gil Scott-Heron

Gil Scott-Heron was born in Chicago in 1949.  He was a highly influential and widely admired singer, jazz pianist, published poet, novelist and socio-political commentator.  His work illuminates a philosophy of life that held human affection as well as political and artistic responsibility as the underlying factors that inspired his writing.  He died in 2011.


I thought I saw last night

across a ridge,

an ebony bridge that spanned all chasms from

Harlem to Home.


Zimbabwe with apartheid still.

Kenya, prove the Black man\’s will.

Biafra, the division is not yet killed.


Queen\’s English, manners so defined

Wardrobe styled and dignified

Darker skin and no Tarzan smile.


Handshake and dashikis too

James Brown doin\’ the soul boogaloo

People starving with nothing to do.


Idolizing TV-man

Capitalism\’s also-ran

Colloquialism\’s cool man.

African!  From the continent

Afro-Americans! From the discontent

Brothers! Can we not implement

a bit of faith?

a bit of love?

For we are all truly brothers

From the womb of mother same

From the genesis we were one

Let us be one, once again.

(Now and Then, The Poems of Gil Scott-Heron, 1990, 2000,Canongate)

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