Stand Undiminished — The Poem

Taken from my motherland in chains
to travel waters unknown by me,
to toil in soil unfamiliar to my hands.
Forced to speak a language
which does not sing.
Exploited, enslaved, whipped and hanged.
Defined in a constitution
as three fifths of a man.
I stood beside you in battle
against common foes.
I stood before you, in defiance
of your authority, fighting for my freedom,
granted by an amendment, still denied
by the common belief in my inferiority.
Is it my darkness which intimidates you?
Are you threatened by my warrior’s strength?
Do you not see the benevolent king I am?
For here, now, I stand before you, again,
not as your enemy, not yet your brother,
no longer the slave of your bidding.
Before you now stands a darker reflection of yourself.
Before you now I stand strong in body,
full of soul, completing the circle of my destiny.
Before you now,
Before you now, I Stand
Before you now, I Stand Undiminished!

Nina Simone (February 21, 1933 – April 21, 2003)

Listen to Nina Simone sing Strange Fruit here.