Friday, April 27, 2012

Five Examples Of African American Spoken Word Poetry

Edited by Azizi Powell

Updated: November 29, 2019

This pancocojams post showcases five videos of African American spoken word poetry from the USA. Links to the words for four of these poems are provided in this post.

The content of this post is presented for educational, historical, folkloric, entertainment, and aesthetic purposes. The copyrights remain with their owners.

My thanks to the spoken word artists, the musicians featured on some of these videos, and the producers & uploaders of these videos.

Enjoy and be inspired!


Video #1: Gil Scott Heron - The Revolution Will Not Be Televised

lanklan, Jul 9, 2009

Gil Scott Heron - The Revolution Will Not Be Televised
Pieces of a Man (1971)
Flying Dutchman/RCA - New York

Johnny Pate - conductor
Brian Jackson - piano
Ron Carter - bass
Pretty Purdie - drums
Burt Jones - electric guitar
Hubert Laws - flute, saxophone


pmThe Revolution Will Not Be Televised
Artist: Gil Scott-Heron
Album" The Revolution Will Not Be Televised / Home Is Where the Hatred Is
Writers: Gil Scott‐Heron
Here's a note from the summary for the sound file that was originally embedded in this post:
"Gil Scott-Heron - The Revolution Will Not Be Televised... (RIP Gil) track 7 from The Soul of the Black Panther Era Vol 1; originally from his 1970 album, Small Talk at 125th and Lenox"


Click for the words to this spoken word poem.

Also click for more information on this spoken word composition.

Video #2: Last Poets - Blessed are those who struggle

Uploaded by freein2339 on Dec 5, 2008

The Last Poets with Bernard Purdie...from the LP "Delights Of The Garden"...This is the tune "Blessed Are Those Who Struggle"..

Written by Suliaman El Hadi

Voices: Jalaluddin Mansur Nuriddin Suliaman El Hadi Abu Mustapha

Bass, Guitar: Mann
Drums: Bernard Purdie
Conga: Abu Mustapha Suliaman El Hadi
Percusion: Jalaluddin Mansur Nuriddin Suliaman El Hadi Abu Mustapha

This is a different lineup then the original "Last Poets"

The original Last Poets were formed on May 19, 1968 (Malcolm X's birthday), at Marcus Garvey Park (formerly Mount Morris Park, at 124th Street and Fifth Avenue) in the East Harlem neighborhood of New York City. The original members were Felipe Luciano, Gylan Kain, and David Nelson.

The group continued to evolve via a 1969 Harlem writers' workshop known as "East Wind." Jalal Mansur Nuriddin, Umar Bin Hassan, and Abiodun Oyewole, along with percussionist Nilaja, are generally considered the primary and core members of the group, as they appeared on the group's 1970 self-titled debut (contracted by noted Jimi Hendrix producer Alan Douglas) and, in various combinations, on subsequent releases. Luciano, Kain, and Nelson recorded separately as The Original Last Poets, gaining some renown as the soundtrack artists for the 1971 film "Right On!".

Umar Bin Hassan, and Abiodun Oyewole still perform under the name "The Last Poets".

Click for the words to this poem.

Also, click for a video of The Last Poets' now classic spoken word composition "When The Revolution Comes".

Video #3: 08. Blackalicious - Ego Trip by Nikki Giovanni (featuring Nikki Giovanni & Erinn Anova)

Neku Rau, Published on Sep 2, 2014

Track 8
Click for another uptempo version of this poem from the "Truth Is On The Way" album. Nikki Giovanni's poems in that album are spoken along with Gospel music. [embedding disabled].

Also, click for the words to this poem.

Video #4: Philip Allen Jr. - When I Became a Man

Uploaded by blacknblues on Oct 1, 2007

When I Became a Man spoken word video. To challenge and inspire men to put the games away, and be the powerful men of God he's called us to be...

Click for biographical information about Phillip Allen Jr.


Unfortunately, I've not been able to find the words to this poem online, and I don't know if it is appropiate to transcribe & post those words here.

Video #5:Sunni Patterson "We Know This Place"

Matthew Rosenbeck, Oct 15, 2006

Clip from live performance by Sunni Patterson
"We Know this place"
Spring 2006. New Orleans La
Produced by Matthew Rosenbeck
New Orleans La 2006
The words to this spoken word composition can be found at

Click for biographical information about Sunni Patterson.

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  1. Thank you for including the Philip Allen Jr. video. Great spoken word article.


    1. You're welcome, Patrick.

      I agree that Philip Allen Jr's spoken word video is powerful as are the other examples that are featured in this post.

      I'm glad to give them more circulation.