In January, students gathered for the James Farmer Tribute, part of UMW’s yearlong celebration of the late civil rights leader. Students planned and executed the event and honored Farmer with songs, dance, poems, and remembrances. Bilqiis Sheikh-Issa ’23 wrote the following poem and delivered it that night. She is a campus leader and is active in the multicultural community.
By Bilqiis Sheikh-Issa
This blood in me has a history.
This body of mine is a work of art.
Created and sculpted and made by my ancestry
My name is that of a Queen who reigned supreme over her Queendom. A strong Black woman they could never tear down
So I keep my head high to show that you can never take that away from me.
You can never break me
Because I’ll always come back.
Power is in my lineage.
Strength is written into my DNA
I come from a line of women who put their blood and sweat and tears into this soil. This Holy Earth and made it strong.
They put the world on their backs and made it strong.
Strength is my cheat code to survival.
This blood in this soil is a burden to bear.
Because there is beauty in my DNA stretched out and out far into this world but there is blood in this soil that has been taken.
Tainted not by the sins of those whose blood has been spilled but rather by those who spilled it.
Took a sword, a knife, a gun, a noose and killed them.
Made martyrs without consent.
And so I fight for them.
I breathe for them.
I be for them.
I am a being made of shea butter, fairy dust, coconut oil, angel feathers, nebulas, and melanin.
I am cosmic. I am Earthly. I am a Creation of God.
I am a legacy.
This is my legacy. This is a legacy that has been
handed to me. Built for centuries.
This … is my destiny.
I am a product of the dreams of the past.
I am a product of the hopes of the future.
I am a product of the work of the present.
I am a Black woman
And I stand tall. Stand with my head held high.
Parallel to the sky. Where my ancestors and the
angels look down upon me.
They breathe into me their strength and guidance.
And they make me strong.
I am a mountain of a woman. I am as pure as the sea.
See me coming and know I bring storm
My voice is thunder. These eyes are lightning. I am the hurricane here to reclaim my World Back.
So watch out world. The Queen has come back to reign supreme over her Queendom.
And you can never take my throne, my heritage, my
legacy away from me
This is my legacy. Built into the Earth. Written in the Heavens.
Given to me by God and built up by my ancestors.
I am a legacy.
Dr. James Farmer. Thank you for your legacy. I am a product of your legacy too. Because without you I cannot stand where I am today. Thank you for watching over me, and I promise your legacy is not over, not to me. This mantle, this torch, this fight that you have passed on to us shall never falter. We are fighting every day to make the dream you had a reality. And we hope that you are up taking that fishing trip in Heaven now.