Hey Black Child by Eugene Useni Perkins

This is one of my favorite poems.


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.

39 thoughts on “Hey Black Child by Eugene Useni Perkins

  1. Tish says:

    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. sharmell says:

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

  3. CHUWHOYU says:

    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.

  4. Alisha says:


  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. Darrian says:

    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. Darice Russ says:

    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. Lekeshia Beckworth says:

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

  9. Pat Lucas says:

    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. Treana Lake says:

    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. chybrenna says:

    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. kim says:

    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 written about him is this book called Black Authors & Illustrators of Books for Children & Young Adults by Barbara Thrash Murphy.

  14. johnathon says:

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

  15. Lela Mc. says:

    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. kalim says:

    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. Seleshia Brown says:

    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. carmeysha says:

    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. Misty says:

    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. Mr. A.C. Ayo says:

    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.

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