“I AM” by Levy Lee Simon

I am a Black Man.
See me.
I am the language I do not speak.
Hear me.
I am rivers of emotion.
Feel me.
I am the fruit of life.
Taste me.
I am the earth of Africa living all over the world.
Touch me.
I am song and dance and tribal rhythms,
the heartbeat of life.
Know me.

I am King Ramseys, Moses, Tutenkumen, Hannibal, and
Shaka Zulu and…

I am the man who stood on auction blocks, head high,
teeth bared, stripped naked so the eyes of the world
could peer envious at my nobility.

I am the man that worked the fields of these lands singing
spirituals under the sun, who stole away into the night on
freedom’s flight. I am Nat Turner, and Gabriel Prossor,  and
Denmark Vessey when the only solution was revolt and

I am Cojoe, Toussaint,  Christophe and that mean Jean
Jacques  Dessalines, the baddest liberators the world has ever
seen.  Bobby Seale, Eldridge Cleaver and Huey P too.  Make
em frown, I’m also H Rap Brown.

I am the first to die for liberty in America.
That’s  a fact thanks to Christpus Attacs.
I am the turning point in the Civil War.
I am all the souls of the Massachusetts 54th

I am Henry Highland Garnett,
and Frederick Douglas.
I am Harlem’s Fighting 369 marching to jazz music in time,
while shooting a gun in WWI.

I am the Tuskegee Airman flying high in the sky,
proving that Black men can indeed fly.
I am a Blood in Vietnam, killing strangers for Uncle Sam.

I am the cowboy on the cattle trial.
I am Bill Pickett and Nat “Deadwood Dick” Love,
Cherokee Bill, and Black Bart, he’d put a hole in your heart.

And, I am the strange fruit,
hanging from strange vines at dusk.
Sing Billie!
I am the Scottsboro Boys, Emmett Till,
And the Tuskegee syphilis experiment without consent.

I am a Black Man,
I created spirituals, and ragtime, jazz, and blues.
I am Scott Joplin and Buddy Bolden
Satchmo, The Duke, and The Count.

I am America’s classical music.

I am an intellectual aristocrat,
fighting the racist ideology I constantly combat,
I am Carver, Dubois, Garvey and old Booker T.
And today I am taking all challenges,
debating against the best,
I’m Lois Gates, Tavis Smiley, and Cornell West,

I have known rivers because I am Langston Hughes,
I am a native son giving a fright, from the pen of Richard
Wright.  I am Ralph Ellison giving Invisible Men insight.
I am James Baldwin in Givonni’a Room, creating Blues for
Mister Charlie for The Fire Next Time.

I am Canada Lee in, “Another Country.”
I am Paul Robeson playing Othello, singing “Old Man River,”
talent so intense they had to put me on a Black list.

I am the Renaissance Man.

I am the baseball player riding a rickety bus
from one hot dusty Jim Crow town to the next,
proving I was better than the best.
I am Josh Gibson, Kool Papa Bell and Satchel Paige
Jackie Robinson, Hammering Hank and Willie Mays
I am Bob Gibson and Bobby Bonds, Darryl Strawberry too,
But I’m not just a drug abuser, I’m also Ken Griffey Jr.
I am that Black kid playing basketball under  inner lights at
night.  I am the Harlem Globe Trotters, Wilt Chamberlain, Bill
Russell, Connie Hawkins and The Big O putting on triple
double show. I am the attack they call Shaq! The creativity of
Kobe, the  elegance of Dr. J, the magic of Magic.
No! I don’t want to me like Mike, I am Michael Jordon.

Want me to stop, I’m not because I am Bee-bop.
I am Dizzy, and Monk, Miles and the Train. I am Cannonball,
and Charlie Parker going insane.

I am Walter Payton and Gale Sayers playing for the Chicago
Bears.  Man, I am the Juice. I am Doug Williams throwing five
TDs winning a Super Bowl. That day I was the man
even if I wasn’t invited to Disney Land.

I am Jim Brown, LT,  and Deacon Jones, breaking bones,
Barry Sanders and Emmit Smith, And I am the latest greatest
I am Michael Vick.

I am citified and countrified, old school and new.
I am Martin ringing the freedom bell and his blood at the
Lorraine Hotel.  I am Detroit Red dancing the Linde Hop,
and, I am the Malcolm they had to stop. I am his blood on the
floors of the Autobon Ballroom.  And, Al Sharpton too, with
the greasy hair –do.

I am all the days of Nelson Mandela’s
resistance on Robben Island.
I am his ticker tape parade down the
“Ave. of Heroes” in New York City.
I am the freedom of South Africa.

I am Cassius Clay becoming Muhammed Ali.
I am all the sweet sugars of Robinson and Leonard Rays.
I am the motor city Hit Man. I am Marvelous! I am smoking
like Joe Frazier.  I am even Mike Tyson fighting and biting.

I’m Denzel living the life of Rueben Hurricane Carter,
and Wesley Snipes being a vampire in the night.
I am acting with the action of Samuel L. Jackson.
I am Sidney Poitier,  Sirring with Love
In The Heat of the Night, but  “Call Me Mr. Tibbs!”

I am Barry Gordy founding Motown.
I’m Smokey, and Marvin, the Temps, and no jive, The Jackson
Five.  I am Black man getting down, I also James Brown,
“Say it loud, I’m Black and I’m proud.”

I am OJ s verdict and I’m Johnny Cockcrane “If it doesn’t fit
you must acquit.” And for some of you, I’m Chris Darden too.

I am the Sugar Hill Gang.
I am Ice T s definition of nigger.
I am Run DMC, Tupac, and Biggie Smalls,
Snoop Dogg, P. Diddy, Dr. Dre,  and LL Kool J.
“I’m gonna knock you out!  Mama said Knock You Out,”
Cause I’m a Bad Boy, A Public Enemy, On Death Row.

I am a Black Man, still harvesting the fields of these lands,
hustling on the streets, driving buses, and delivering the mail,
attending Harvard, Grambling, Howard, and Yale,
and rotting in jail cells….. I am doctoring and lawyering,
inventing, not relenting.

And I am the target of genocide.
Dying on the streets, nodding in alleyways,
smoking crack another attack,
but I’m also Claude McKay, fighting back!

I am combating racism, living with pride,
And refusing to die!
I am having faith in God and questioning men god.
I am looking the world in the face,
And saying I ain’t going no place.

I’m saying “yes” to “Yes I can!”
because I am Barack Obama!!!!

Because I’m the president, a Black man!

Are you getting my drift on this rift?
This is my anthem, the grand sum in the new Millennium.
See me right!!!!!
I’m not a stereotype.

I am a Black man.
Feel me.
I am a Black man.
Hear me.
I am a Black man.
Taste me
I am a Black man.
Touch me.
I am a Black man.
See me.
I am a Black man
Know me.
I am a Black man!

Levy Lee Simon

Photo by L. K. Thayer

© 2011


  1. lkthayer · January 13, 2011

    “I am Sidney Poitier, Sirring with Love
    In The Heat of the Night, but “Call Me Mr. Tibbs!”
    YES!! Remarkable, powerful, packs-a-punch work
    Levy…thank you for sharing your gift of words
    and truth. Bravo.

  2. stevie · January 13, 2011

    I love this as you know.

  3. Chelsea Bond · October 31, 2011

    I am.
    I am one to remember my lives past,
    my memories are stolen, now, from the lives that have passed.

    I am love,
    as complex as the veins that we all have,
    traveling through the body’s path.

    I am wise, an owl of the land.
    Find me perching in the silence,
    just to mend.
    Not your mittens or your gloves,
    but my heart here, hear me
    Together we can blend.

    I am accepting.
    Lets throw a mending party.
    All are invited.
    the natives of the land
    and those from far away.

    Because communicating our mending ways
    is the way to heal
    from days and days
    and days and days
    beyond End
    of suffering,
    I hear you say.

    And days and days, I get to choose
    to live in love and happiness, too.

    Abraham Lincoln was my fifth uncle,
    believe it or not,
    I won’t crumble.
    I am proud to be alive,
    thank you life
    for choosing mine.

    I am a white woman, but that’s just a box,
    A Mighty Being.
    Inspirational Spring.

    (Thank you for your inspirational poem, Levy Lee!!!)

  4. Corina · April 28, 2013

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    your wrinkles and lines. Its ingredients help to reduce scar
    tissues and encourage skin cell growth. I was
    so upset because I was living at the beach and having a tan was so important to me.

  5. Dayna Leslie Hodges · May 29, 2013

    Hey Levy… Wow! This poem is truly powerful… what a gift you absolutely posses! And those of us who are fortunate to read it, are blessed with the gift that is this poem! Looking forward to reading more of your work!!! …it’s so wonderful the way we can express ourselves with language, with words through poetry…
    As I read your poem, it kept gaining momentum, drawing me further down the page and into your world of expressive identity… Beautiful!!!!


    A beautiful heart beating
    soul pulsing
    emotional riff
    on identity.

    We are all different and
    we are all the same.

    We are history and
    we are our intimate present.

    We breathe the rhythm
    of our interior
    and exhale
    in our freedom
    a full expression
    of our true portrait
    this is me
    as I am.

    © Dayna Leslie Hodges

    Well, Levy, I didn’t intend to write a poem, but your poem inspired me to write this one… Gotta love inspiration 🙂

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