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I Am - Somebody

From Academic Kids

I Am - Somebody is a poem by Reverend Jesse Jackson, which he recited on Sesame Street in 1971. This inspirational free verse poem was unparalleled with anything ever attempted on children's television in content and delivery, and to an extent still is. The poem fulfilled Sesame Street 's initial curriculum for serving the under-privileged city youth, as well as offering cultural understanding. Kids of all races were scattered all over the Sesame Street set, on the street, benches, fire escapes, led by Jackson in the poem.

According to The Reader's Companion to American History, the poem was written as part of push-Excel, a program designed to motivate black students. [1] (http://college.hmco.com/history/readerscomp/rcah/html/ah_046500_jacksonjesse.htm)

The following is this poem, in the original structure as written by Reverend Jackson. Lines of "I am/Somebody" or "But I am/Somebody" were recited both by the children and Jackson.

I am
Somebody!
I am
Somebody!
I may be poor,
But I am
Somebody.
I may be young,
But I am
Somebody.
I may be on welfare,
But I am
Somebody.
I may be small,
But I am
Somebody.
I may have made mistakes,
But I am
Somebody.
My clothes are different,
My face is different,
My hair is different,
But I am
Somebody.
I am black,
Brown,or white.
I speak a different language
But I must be respected,
Protected,
Never rejected.
I am
God's child!

The poem was published as part of a 1998 book called I Am Somebody! (ISBN 0516261339), which included biographies of notable figures, for kids aged 9-12.

The phrase has become so much of a calling card for Jackson that he yells it in a cameo in the movie Undercover Brother.

In 1990, when Dr. Seuss died, Saturday Night Live parodied the poem by having him recite "Green Eggs and Ham".

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