Today Is National Black Poetry Day. Here’s a Totally Biased List of 10 Black Poems You Should Hear

Illustration for article titled Today Is National Black Poetry Day. Here’s a Totally Biased List of 10 Black Poems You Should Hear

Today is national black poetry day and I am, among many things, a black poet. I could link to Maya Angelou’s “Phenomenal Woman” or some other literary poets, but there are these things called books that you should totally check out.


And because The Root’s Social Media Editor Corey Townsend hates spoken word poetry, I thought I’d torture him by sharing some of my favorite black-ass poems. In the name of transparency, I will let you know that I know all of these poets because ... well, all black people know each other.

Even if you think spoken word and slam poetry are uninteresting or formulaic, listen to some of these poems, and hopefully, they will change your mind.

If not, Corey agrees with you. But he likes pumpkin spice flavors, so his taste is trash, anyway.

This is my spirit poem:

Ed Mabrey is considered by many to be one of, if not the greatest slam poet in history:

Kyla Lacey, a Root contributor, explains white privilege:

The BET Cypher featuring Mos Def, Black Thought and Eminem is poetry at its finest:

Christopher Michael’s personal poem about the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church is a powerful piece of history:

Here is another Root contributor, Zack Linly, writing about mental health in the black community:

Stephen Willis’ “The Hustle Speaks” is one of my favorite poems of all time:

Ashlee Haze, a Very Smart Brothas contributor, penned this poem to black women:

A poem based on a story written by The Root’s own Angela Helm:

And, of course, one by me that lets you know I actually have white friends:

Anyway, happy National Black Poetry Day.

I’ll see you again on National Black Pumpkin Spice Day

World-renowned wypipologist. Getter and doer of "it." Never reneged, never will. Last real negus alive.



As always Mr. Hughes is completely relevant 100% of the time.

It was a long time ago.

I have almost forgotten my dream.

But it was there then,

In front of me,

Bright like a sun—

My dream.

And then the wall rose,

Rose slowly,


Between me and my dream.