Interview with Sonia Sanchez

What were you saying about not seeing Blacks in positions of power in the North?


In the North we never really saw, um, African-Americans in any position of power, except in the church. Ah, even at the corner stores, the supermarkets, African-Americans were not in a position of power. Ah, you had other people who would sell you food and sell you vegetables, whatever. When you went to church, quite often you would have a Black pastor, if you went to a Black, Black church. But, if you went, perhaps to a Catholic church, you would not necessarily see, you know, African-American priests up there preaching to you, or talking to you, or doing the sacraments. So, I guess Malcolm made us say, simply, "There is a man in the position of power. Ah, and he's exerting power and he's spreading that power around, and he's saying, here's some power for you, it's spelled, p-o-w-e-r!" It is indeed Black Power, because I is, you know Black, um, excuse my English. Um, and we understood that almost, in some very instinctive fashion, because we extended our hands very fast and said simply, "I'm going to be seen," whatever. So, when we simply got naturals in the early sixties, and I walked across, ah, um, a street in Harlem at a hundred and thirty fifth street, I stopped traffic with this natural. Now, you must remember, the natural is not big, it was, like, not a huge natural as many of us got to be known for, um, but it was a natural, and people recognized it was different. And, the taxi cab driver would stop and as soon as I got across the street, he would lean out and go, "Oogaa booga booga," you know. And, I would like draw myself up real, real proudly, you know, and keep on going, ah, in a very real fashion. But, my father said, "Girl, what's your problem? Now, why don't you get married and have some babies, and move to Long Island or Connecticut or some place." Um, and we would say, "You just don't understand, ah, period." And, but, but, what we understood is that we have been released, um, ah, the power energy had been released in the North via Malcolm. Ah, the energy that says "You can be what ever you wanted to be. You can do whatever you want to do. You want to write a play, girl, write a play, write a play tonight, bring it out tomorrow, and do that." And I did that. And someone says, "Are you a playwright," and I said, "Mm hmm, mm hmm." They said, "Isn't it strange the connection between the poet and the playwright?" And I would say, "Mm hmm," you know. They said, "Isn't it really interesting that you write poet- you write a, you write plays and poetry." And I said, "Mm hmm." And, I said, "When do you want that play?" They said, "Tomorrow." I said, "No problem." Went home. Set up. I wrote a play, typed a play. Brought it back the next day, and said, "Isn't it amazing the connection between the poet and the playwright?" and walked out. Burst out laughing going down the steps, because you could do whatever you wanted to do. He had released that kind of energy within us, and, we still have it. I mean I still have that energy that says, simply- And everybody I know who came from that period has that energy also, too.




Cut. Okay.