The poem I read on "It's Showtime At The Apollo" in 1995 changed my life. I wrote that poem while I was still living on Detroit's West Side and I’d never been to NYC. I wanted to write a poem, at 21, that celebrated women of color, girls that looked like all of my girls. I didn't know the full history of NY's Statue of Liberty when I wrote my poem, and of course, I would later learn that the original statue was actually an African woman breaking shackles off her ankles and arms.
This is the poem. It was later published in my first book, The Words Don't Fit in My Mouth.
Black Statue of Liberty
by jessica Care moore
I stand still above an Island Fists straight in the air Scar on my face Long braids in my hair
People fly from all over just to swim near my tide or climb up my long flight of stairs but they trip on their shoe string lies piece by piece they shipped my body to this country
now that i'm here
your people don't want me
I'm a symbol of freedom
but i'm still not free
I suffer from race, class and gender in equality
I wear a crown of knowledge cause i'm a conscious queen my mask is one of happiness but my history here if full of misery, done deliberately
I am america's true statue of liberty cause liberty is just old mother nature and although you don't love her she'll never hate ya she's earth, wind and fire don't tempt him to show her power turning all weeds to flowers looking into her wise eyes will make a blind man see how can you dare name a Eurocentric girl after me?
Assata Shakur Barbara Jordan Nikki Giovanni and Angela Davis
These are the true symbols of liberty
But that stone faced french women ain't gonna save us the same folks who enslaved us I'm sitting at the back of the bus cause i feel like it I play ball not cause you pay me to dunk it dribble it or hike it
Taking all my people back home and breaking them mentally free.
I'm the walking talking breathing statue of liberty
I sweep crack pipes out school yards I nurture my man when times are hard
So, where's out statue??
What's a liberated woman gotta do?
place my name in wet cement every month i pay the rent put my silhouette on a stamp
i'm not a ho slut or tramp
my children aren't on crack and either am i
I wanna see the words
"Go strong black woman" When the good year blimp flies by.
I can bake cookies, bare babies, resides of revolutions
Get rings out of tubs, wear a suit, slick my hair back or tie it in braids
My aura is unafraid
So, no statue in the big apple can mess with me.
I'm the walking, talking, breathing, surviving
Black Statue of Liberty
Copyright 1996 Moore Black Press.
jessica Care moore is an internationally renowned poet, playwright, actor, activist, producer and CEO of Moore Black Press. She is the author of The Words Don't Fit in My Mouth, The Alphabet Verses The Ghetto, God is Not an American, and a forthcoming book of essays, Literary Apartheid. She has performed her poems and solo theater shows all over the United States, in South Africa, and across Europe. From her Broadway performances at Carnegie Hall, or Harlem's Apollo Theater, London's Institute of Contemporary Arts, to New York's Jazz at Lincoln Center, moore believes poems belong everywhere and to everyone. Her new show, The Missing Project: Pieces of the D is an international storytelling live art music show that features an experimental jazz orchestra and the work of graffiti artist Antonio "Shades" Agee. Her debut rock album, Black Tea, will be completed soon. moore continues to push the boundaries of genre, with her first conceptual art installation, NANOC: I Sing The Body Electric, opening at Dell Pryor Gallery in 2011. She lives in Detroit, where she is completing her memoir, Love is Not the Enemy, and raising the 4-year old love of her life, King Thomas James Moore Poole.