I Am – Somebody  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

"I Am - Somebody" is a poem by Reverend Jesse Jackson. 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.

He recited the free verse poem on Sesame Street in 1971, geared to fulfilling Sesame Street 's initial curriculum for serving under-privileged city children, as well as promoting cultural understanding.

On Sesame Street, lines of "I am/Somebody" or "But I am/Somebody" were recited in a call and response fashion by Jackson and the children. During the segment children of all races were scattered all over the Sesame Street set, on the street, benches, fire escapes, and led by Jackson in the poem. This performance is included on the 2006 DVD release Sesame Street: Old School 1969–1974.

"I Am - Somebody" was also recited by Jackson, with the assembled crowd at Los Angeles Coliseum for the Wattstax concert in 1972.

The poem was published as part of a 1998 book called I Am Somebody! (ISBN 0-516-26133-9), which included biographies of notable figures, for kids aged 9-12.

It also appears in When We Were Kings, a 1996 documentary examining the historic Rumble in the Jungle boxing match between Muhammad Ali and George Foreman in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (which was still known as Zaire at that time). It was performed with band as part of a concert preceding the bout that was said to be the finest collection of African American entertainers ever assembled at that time (1974).

Cultural references

About a month after Dr. Seuss died in 1991, Saturday Night Live paid tribute to the book Green Eggs and Ham, by having Jackson appear on the "Weekend Update" segment and recite it in the same oratative fashion he performs his own poem.

The poem was recited in a somewhat different form in what sounds like a speech by Jackson sampled on the 1973 funk single "Same Beat" by The J.B.'s. The J.B.'s titled an album and track Damn Right I Am Somebody the following year.

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

"I Am - Somebody" also inspired a similarly titled song on Carlos Santana's 2005 album, "All That I Am", which featured the American rapper will.i.am of the Black Eyed Peas.

"I Am Somebody" is a song by the hip-hop group Jurassic 5 on the album Power In Numbers, which samples the poem numerous times.

A recording of "I Am Somebody" is on the song "Can't Hold Us Back" on Paris Presents: Hard Truth Soldiers by Dead Prez, Kam, Paris and Public Enemy.

"I am Somebody" is a song by french artist DJ Mehdi and collaborators Chromeo.

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "I Am – Somebody" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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