Spreading Good News (Part 198 – Beah Richards: A Black Woman Speaks)

The goal of Spreading Good News is for readers to:

GET INSPIRED and/or MOTIVATED and/or INFORMED and/or AWE-STRUCK and to take a break from all the negative news!!



VIEW OUR CABLE TV AD HERE:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2AXHTT8NGT8






I saw this documentary, Beah Richards: A Black Woman Speaks, on cable television (PBS) near or during the week of March 14, 2004.  I was overwhelmed!

Beah Richards (Actress, Poet, Activist)

July 12, 1926-September 14, 2000

At a peace conference in Chicago (it appeared to be in the 1940’s, so Beah was in her twenties) a prize was being given for the poem that most expressed the idea of peace.  She recited her poem.  (The documentary did not show her actual recitation.  It showed her reciting it about 20 years later—she appeared to be in her forties. She was the only person/thing in the scene as she recited it, tears rolling down her checks.)

This is the most profound poem I have EVER heard.

A Black Woman Speaks of White Womanhood, of White Supremacy, and of Peace

It is right that I, a woman black, should speak of white womanhood.

My husbands, my fathers, my brothers, my sons, died for it.

They said, the white supremacists said, that you were better than me.

That your fair brow should never know the sweat of slavery.

They lied.

White womanhood, too, is enslaved.

The difference is degree.

They brought me here in chains.

They brought you here—willing slaves to man.

You bore him sons.

I bore him sons. No, not willingly.

He purchased you.

He raped me.

You were afraid to nurse your young, lest fallen breasts

Offend your master’s sight, and he should flee

To firmer lovliness.

And, so, you passed them—your children—on to me.

And, as I gave suck, I knew

I nursed my own child’s enemy.

I could have lied. Told you your child was fed

Till it was dead of hunger.

But I could not find the heart

To kill orphaned innocence, for

As it fed, it smiled, and burped, and gurgled with content.

And, as for color, knew no difference.

Yes, in that first while, I kept your sons and daughters alive.

But when they grew strong in blood and bone

That was of MY milk

You taught them to hate me.

You gave them the words “mammy” and “nigger.”

So, the strength that was of myself, turned

And spat upon me, despoiled my daughters and killed my sons.


Then, the documentary goes to current day, shortly before Beah died from emphysema, and Beah says:

“And when I finished it, all of a sudden there’s this scream.  It’s a scream that’s 500 women screaming. They’re crying, they’re screaming. They have their arms around each other. People all over this convention hall hear them, and they think we’re being attacked by the police. They come running and say ‘what is the matter? What is happening? What has happened?’ They say, ‘This woman read a poem.’  ‘She did WHAT?!’ ‘She read a poem.’ And I will never forget it as long as I live. There was one woman who picked me up. She picked me up.  She picked me up bodily.  And there was a table in the middle of the thing. She stood me on the table, and she had a pocket handkerchief, and she gave it to me, and she said, ‘wave it, wave it, wave it.'”

Beah won the poetry contest and $300.


~ Joyce Fields

About Line of Serenity (Joyce Fields)

As a thought leader for today's generation, I choose to be part of the solution and am doing things that positively impact people's lives. In addition to being a happy, married (since 1967!) woman, sister, aunt, mother, grandmother, great grandmother, I have over 40 years' experience in "Corporate America": Stenographer, Secretary, Supervisor, Analyst, Office Manager, Executive Assistant. I am also a professional proofreader and the author of 10 books (mostly non-fiction)--http://www.GoodShortBooks.com).
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1 Response to Spreading Good News (Part 198 – Beah Richards: A Black Woman Speaks)

  1. That was the entire poem. Glad it peaked your interest!

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