Hey Black Child by Useni Eugene Perkins

This is one of my favorite poems.

Useni Eugene Perkins

Hey Black Child

Hey Black Child,

Do you know who you are?

Who you really are?

Do you know you can be

What you want to be?

If you try to be

what you can be.

Hey Black Child,

Do you know where you’re going?

Where you’re really going?

Do you know you can learn

What you want to learn?

If you try to learn

What you can learn?

Hey Black Child,

Do you know you are strong?

I mean really strong?

Do you know you can do

What you want to do?

If you try to do

What you can do?

Hey Black Child,

Be what you can be

Learn what you must learn

Do what you can do

And tomorrow your nation will be what you want it to be.

57 thoughts on “Hey Black Child by Useni Eugene Perkins

  1. I remember this poem from my elementary years, third grade to be exact. I cannot believe how relevant and true this poem is today. “Yes We Can”!

  2. i luv this poem it is special it brakes me down in tears barack obama we made it thank you very much

  3. I won First Place in an Oratorical Contest with this Poem. I attended Booker T. Washington Middle School back in 1991 and I still remember the words like it was yesterday, it still gives me that Boost that we all need every now and then.


  5. You are more than welcome Alisha. Keep those children reading. You’re doing the right thing. Whatever I can do to help, let me know.

  6. I had the pleasure of meeting the wife of this Great Man on last night at an awards ceremony. It was truly an honor. And to know that he lives in my city makes it the more awesome.

  7. I love this poem too, my mom had a poster in our room growing up as children and now I am going to do the same for my daughter. You can never teach self love early enough!!!

  8. I have started to recite this poem to my two little girls everyday!!!!!!!!!!! I truly love this poem.

  9. I love this poem. My 26 year old son recited Hey Black Child when he was a preschooler. I lost my copy years ago, but thank God for the internet I have it again.

  10. I would love it if you came to my school XXXXXX Elemenerary school on Siwel RD.This is my school’s#XXX-XXX-XXX We choir students are trying to learn this lovely poem for black history month.Call me@XXX-XXX-XXX. I am in 5th grade.e-mail me if you like.

  11. Four of my five sons, age 4,7,7,and 10 will recite this poem on tomorow, Lord willing, at a Black history program. Today is the first time I remember hearing it, (I’m ashamed to say) but I look forward to reading more of Mr. Perkins work.

  12. I recited this poem in my 3rd grade elocution contest and won the grand prize. I recited it to my mother like 3 months ago and she couldn’t believe that I still remembered it. It was published in a book with some other poems…Does anyone happen to know the name of that poetry book?

  13. Kim, the only book that I know that’s written about him is this book called Black Authors & Illustrators of Books for Children & Young Adults by Barbara Thrash Murphy.

  14. I have been looking for this poem for a while. This poem is one of the best poem that i have heard.

  15. I Luv this poem,its so inspiring & motivates me to continue forth in my dreams & goals. Cause I am strong & I can do what ever it is that I dream to do. Thanx Mr. Perkins for puting thos out here.

  16. the poems is very nice but,we african can never be what we,bcs we keep somuch praying on things that they will never came to us.we do not keep our heat up to say what we want to be.,,,,,,,,,,,,if we cant say it to out leathers?we can also say it to the visitirs.but we do not and that why we can never..

  17. I have a class studying literature and poems and I noticed this poem on the wall at my son’s school and it was such an inspiration to me; I love this poem.

  18. I remember like was yesterday you gave me this poem my Mom work at the college when you use to work. I love it, its great. Now I’m much older I respect your Good quality work

  19. This is one poem that should have never left Chicago Public Schools……..maybe graduation rates would be higher………

  20. I remember Mrs.Perkins who was his wife and also my.first grade teacher making us recite this poem every morning! She was my favorite teacher and this poem Still do something to me.

  21. Carmeysha I loved that poem as a child. I remember the first time I heard it I just knew that black child was me because I did not know who I was or where I was going. I think a whole generation of black children may have very well felt the same way. Did you ever get a chance to meet him?

  22. I was a kid and I saw the poem on a poster being sold at a Muslim summer get together !!! I bought it for a few dollars . I hung it on my wall and said it everyday. I was a young teen then but kept it until it fell apart. Once I became a teacher everyone of my classes said it along with a poem I wrote. To end “I LOVE THIS POEM” !!!!!!!!!!!

  23. My name is Mr. Ayo I . was a reading specialist for the Del Paso Heights School District in 1994. My daughter Angelique won first place at the S,E.P. Oratorical Contest in Oakland,California @ The Hyatt Regency Hotel.I will always remember this event. Angelique is no longer with us. She passed away March 1,20013 in Sacramento, California. Rest in peace Angelique.I love this poem very much.

  24. This poem was written by late Countee Cullen. I remember it from Black History in Montgomery,Alabama. Harlem Renaissance writer, Countee Cullen.

  25. Why are you claiming the poem was written by Useni Eugene Perkins? Any quick Google search will show that the poet is Countee Cullen. Very well documented. Basic fact checking should be done before publishing an item like this. Especially from someone “who happens to be a Special Education Resource Specialist Teacher.” Don’t spread ignorance, show respect to the true author.

  26. Kate calm down. Everyone makes mistakes. When I published this, I did search for the author and his name is the one that I found. I will check. However, it is one thing to inform and quite another to attack. Why are you so hostile?

  27. Hi Gabriela. This is not Useni Eugene Perkins. This is Leila, the writer of the blog. I researched this issue and as far as I know, Useni Eugene Perkins wrote this poem.

  28. Diva, I researched and the research didn’t support that. If you would like to share a link so that I can further research, feel free to do so and I will follow up.

  29. I love this poem so much that I am going to hang on my wall and share it with my friends. Go onto YouTube and you will find that a 3 year old recited this poem. I hope that everyone else will like this poem.” Hey Black Child” is now my favorite poem.

  30. A beautiful poem When black cildern read or heard those encouraging words. They found their courage. To keep trying to go foiward . No matter the what stuggles they may haxe to endear. now this poem should be revised. For every child, no matter if born a american or or given the opportunity to become a american citizens. Needs ro understand no matter the calor. Race or back ground. They are apart wital link in keeping our nation strong. By say HEY CHILD OR CHILDERN. Whould be grand. That every child could find encouragement in the decades to come.

  31. I love this poem and use to recite it at churches and school for my High School’s African American History Club outings. It is perfect as written for times when it was written and for the present. Maybe just maybe when this racist country cease from its injustice, degradation, inequality and inequity, biased and prejudice treatment of black children, the poem could be revised. Until than, it is perfect.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s