Abiodun Oyewole of the legendary Last Poet talks about the group and its history, the role of poetry in the revolution, Juneteenth, Bosoton, Hip-Hop and much more with Bridgit Brown for WGBH Arts. He also recites “If We Only Knew What We Could Do,” an original poem about hope.
BOSTON — On May 19, 1968, three poets stepped up to the mic to recite their verses to the rhythm of percussive thrusts, and from that day forward the art of spoken word was altered. The poets had no idea that they were about to make music history. None of them had given what they were doing a name, but each wanted to create an opening in the Black Arts Movement for their chosen form of expression. The poems were hip and the drumbeats were infectious. Words over beats would become a powerful social force for African-American and Latino youth, paving the way for social and political messaging through beats and rhymes.
On June 16th, Abiodun Oyewole, Babatunde Don Eaton, and Umar Bin Hassan of The Last Poets will be stepping up to a mic as part of the international observance of Juneteenth (June 19), the day in 1865 on which slaves in the state of Texas were emancipated from slavery.