Gil Scott-Heron


Poet and musician Gil Scott-Heron was born in Chicago. Scott-Heron completed several years of undergraduate course work at Lincoln University and later earned an MA in creative writing at the Johns Hopkins University. Scott-Heron’s poetry collections include Small Talk at 125th and Lenox: A Collection of Black Poems (1970) and So Far, So Good (1990). An overview of his poetry can be found in Now and Then: The Poems of Gil Scott-Heron (2000). He also wrote the novels The Vulture (1970) and The Nigger Factory (1972) and the memoir The Last Holiday (2012) and is the subject of the biography Gil Scott-Heron: Pieces of a Man (2014), by Marcus Baram. Source

Black History

I was wondering about our yesterdays,

and starting digging through the rubble

and to say, at least somebody went

through a hell of a lot of trouble

to make sure that when we looked things up

we wouldn't fair too well

and that we would come up with totally unreliable

portraits of ourselves.

But I compiled what few facts I could,

I mean, such as they are

to see if we could shed a little bit of light

and this is what I got so far:

First, white folks discovered Africa

and they claimed it fair and square.

Cecil Rhodes couldn't have been robbing nobody

'cause he said there was nobody there.

White folks brought all the civilization,

since there wasn't none around.

They said 'how could these folks be civilized

when you never see nobody writing nothing down?'

And just to prove all their suspicions,

it didn't take too long.

They found out there were whole groups of people

in plain sight

running around with no clothes on. That's right!

The women, the men, the young and old,

righteous white folks covered their eyes.

So no time was spent considering the environment.

Hell no! This here, this just wasn't civilized!

And another way they knew the folks was backwards,

or at least this how we were taught

is that 'unlike the very civilized people of Europe'

these Black groups actually fought!

And yes, there was some 'rather crude implements'

and yes, there was 'primitive art'

and yes they were masters of hunting and fishing

and courtesy came from the heart.

And yes there was medicine, love and religion,

inter-tribal communication by drum.

But no paper and pencils and other utensils

and hell, these folks never even heard of a gun.

So this is why the colonies came

to stabilize the land.

Because The Dark Continent had copper and gold

and the discovers had themselves a plan.

They would 'discover' all the places with promise.

You didn't need no titles or deeds.

You could just appoint people to make everything legal,

to sanction the trickery and greed.

And out in the bushes if the natives got restless

You could call that 'guerilla attack!'

and never have to describe that somebody finally got


and decided they wanted their things back.

But still we are victims of word games,

semantics is always a [  ]:

places once called under-developed and 'backwards'

are now called 'mineral rich.'

And still it seems the game goes on

with unity always just out of reach

Because Libya and Egypt used to be in Africa,

but they've been moved to the 'middle east'.

There are examples galore I assure you,

but if interpreting was left up to me

I'd be sure every time folks knew this version wasn't mine

which is why it is called 'His story'.





Literary Movements:

Black Arts Movement

Anthology Years:




Humor & Satire

Memory & The Past

Music & Sports

Racial Injustice

Literary Devices:


an expression designed to call something to mind without mentioning it explicitly; an indirect or passing reference


a figure of speech in which words repeat at the beginning of successive clauses, phrases, or sentences


conversation between two or more people as a feature of a book, play, or movie

Interrupted Clause

a word group (a statement, question, or exclamation) that interrupts the flow of a sentence and is usually set off by commas, dashes, or parentheses


correspondence of sound between words or the endings of words, especially when these are used at the ends of lines of poetry


the use of irony to mock or convey contempt