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Black History Month Poems

There are great poets through time and African American Month is a great time to explore the contributions they have had in the world of poetry. Here is a great sampling of the poems that will not only get you thinking but open up great conversations with your children.

Questions for Discussion

  1. What do you think they are talking about?

  2. What do you think they were feeling when they wrote the poem?

  3. Can you relate to this poem?


A Hymn To The Evening

By Philis Wheatly


Soon as the sun forsook the eastern main

The pealing thunder shook the heav'nly plain;

Majestic grandeur! From the zephyr's wing,

Exhales the incense of the blooming spring.

Soft purl the streams, the birds renew their notes,

And through the air their mingled music floats.

Through all the heav'ns what beauteous dies are spread!

But the west glories in the deepest red:

So may our breasts with ev'ry virtue glow,

The living temples of our God below!

Fill'd with the praise of him who gives the light,

And draws the sable curtains of the night,

Let placid slumbers sooth each weary mind,

At morn to wake more heav'nly, more refin'd;

So shall the labours of the day begin

More pure, more guarded from the snares of sin.

Night's leaden sceptre seals my drowsy eyes,

Then cease, my song, till fair Aurora rise.



Mother To Son

By Langston Hughes


Well, son, I’ll tell you:

Life for me ain’t been no crystal stair.

It’s had tacks in it,

And splinters,

And boards torn up,

And places with no carpet on the floor—

Bare.

But all the time

I’se been a-climbin’ on,

And reachin’ landin’s,

And turnin’ corners,

And sometimes goin’ in the dark

Where there ain’t been no light.

So boy, don’t you turn back.

Don’t you set down on the steps

’Cause you finds it’s kinder hard.

Don’t you fall now—

For I’se still goin’, honey,

I’se still climbin’,

And life for me ain’t been no crystal stair.



Life Doesn't Frighten Me At All

By Maya Angelou


Shadows on the wall

Noises down the hall

Life doesn't frighten me at all


Bad dogs barking loud

Big ghosts in a cloud

Life doesn't frighten me at all


Mean old Mother Goose

Lions on the loose

They don't frighten me at all


Dragons breathing flame

On my counterpane

That doesn't frighten me at all.


I go boo

Make them shoo

I make fun

Way they run

I won't cry

So they fly


I just smile

They go wild

Life doesn't frighten me at all.


Tough guys fight

All alone at night

Life doesn't frighten me at all.


Panthers in the park

Strangers in the dark

No, they don't frighten me at all.


That new classroom where

Boys all pull my hair

(Kissy little girls

With their hair in curls)

They don't frighten me at all.


Don't show me frogs and snakes

And listen for my scream,

If I'm afraid at all

It's only in my dreams.


I've got a magic charm

That I keep up my sleeve

I can walk the ocean floor

And never have to breathe.


Life doesn't frighten me at all

Not at all

Not at all


Life doesn't frighten me at all.


Frederick Douglas

By Robert Hayden


When it is finally ours, this freedom, this liberty, this beautiful

and terrible thing, needful to man as air,

usable as earth; when it belongs at last to all,

when it is truly instinct, brain matter, diastole, systole,

reflex action; when it is finally won; when it is more

than the gaudy mumbo jumbo of politicians:

this man, this Douglass, this former slave, this Negro

beaten to his knees, exiled, visioning a world

where none is lonely, none hunted, alien,

this man, superb in love and logic, this man

shall be remembered. Oh, not with statues' rhetoric,

not with legends and poems and wreaths of bronze alone,

but with the lives grown out of his life, the lives

fleshing his dream of the beautiful, needful thing.



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