Willie Griggs

Portraits of Homelessness

Photos and stories of men who are homeless

I wrote Black poetry in the 60s to the mid-70s. It was a flavor of the times–about opening your eyes to who you were as a black person in America. I was with a group that combined poetry with singing and dance until we got it just right–juuust riiight. If you
listened to our poetry and music you could feel the frustration.

We came from the ghettos of Detroit and Chicago and New Jersey. My wife was in the group and did the dancing. She worked for WDET, the radio station at Wayne State University in Detroit.

Today, the Afro-American museum is right around the corner from Wayne State. It’s a be-u-tee-full museum. I would like to perform there someday. They’ve got a large enough auditorium to hold my big ego. Ha-ha-ha-ha.

Some people could be offended by the poetry I do. Take my poem “Summertime.”

It’s summertime,
Yes, but what did you say the living was,
Easy?
I’m a man,
But I’m oppressed in a racist land:
I don’t work no where, I can’t pay my rent ,
I’ve got six babies and two wives,
I’m of African descent.
But hush, baby, don’t cry;
It’s summertime, yes, it’s summertime.