© 2019 by Renee Mitchell Speaks. All Rights Reserved.

   "Words have power.

Choose them wisely."

arm up eyes wide

black fist raised high

Nelson Mandela


between the moments

of our simple lives

from a mere man

to an international icon

even before he victoriously emerged

from 27 years of captivity

silently signaling solidarity

with his people

his tribe

his bride Winnie


arm up fist raised high

he claimed our attention

“amandla nag wethu"

power to the people

this gesture resounded louder

than the showiest screech for revenge

power to the people

this symbolic slogan of triumph

is a reminder of our own possibilities

a yardstick of our complexities

power to the people

within the people

for the people

by the people


his imprisonment was the price

he paid for the liberation of our minds

our deliverance

from self-enslaved revenge


"as I walked out the door

toward the gate

that would lead to my freedom,”

Mandela is quoted as saying

“I knew if I didn't leave my bitterness

and hatred behind, I'd still be in prison"

from the dusty shanty towns

to the drug infested

American ghettos

he inspired us

to seek to be noble


good humored 


who are we not

to want to be like him

surely we are lesser men

to crave retaliation

to lust for blood


Papa Africa was wise

he knew

we would follow his lead

even when he wasn’t watching

so he reached out his arm

& extended hope

power to my people


he reminded us

our scars would not

forever remain

power to the people


& savage attacks

seasoned in white privilege

would not last


arms down eyes now closed

his black fist is still raised high

miles past our imaginations

light years beyond our self-imposed limitations

power is yours, he whispers from the grave


power to my people


Power to the People

(c) 2014 S. Renee Mitchell


 (in memory of Nelson Mandela)