Black History Month 2012: Legendary Poet's Spoken Word A True Force
NY1 kicks off its week-long series spotlighting African-American women who have used their voices in the struggle for freedom and equality with a profile of legendary poet Dr. Sonia Sanchez. NY1's Cheryl Wills filed the following report.
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She is a poet and author of more than 16 books but Dr. Sonia Sanchez is perhaps best known for her electrifying spoken word.
To her fans the world over Sanchez' voice is music to the ears and food for the soul. Sanchez has spent much of her career composing stinging poems about social justice and equality, allowing her emotions to bounce off of her tongue.
"Once you hear the truth, you have to change. It changes you," said Sanchez.
The feisty professor was recently honored at the The Malcolm X and Dr. Betty Shabazz Memorial and Educational Center as one one of "Freedom's Sisters" which honors the legacy of African-American women. Sanchez befriended Malcolm X during the last years of his life and she remembers their first meeting.
"I said Mr. X, I don't believe all that you said to me and he said to me, 'One day my sister you will.' And he had the most peaceful eyes," said Sanchez.
Dr. Sanchez has legions of fans like Professor Jamal Joseph of Columbia University. Joseph, the author of "Panther Baby" joined the Black Panthers in his youth, went to jail and while there earned two college degrees.
The poet and filmmaker is such a fan of Sanchez he produced a documentary about her called "Shake Loose Memories", based on her critically acclaimed book "Shake Loose My Skin".
"Sonia has this ability to look in people's spirits and heart and see their greatness," said Joseph.
Born in Alabama, Sanchez spent part of her youth in Manhattan where she developed her love of poetry. Although she lives in Philadelphia the poet says her heart and her melody are always rooted in Harlem.