Kevin Powell is a civil and human rights activist, poet journalist and author of 14 books, including his newest title, "When We Free the World." His next book will be a biography of Tupac Shakur. You can follow him on Instagram and Facebook.

PHOTO: Kevin Powell attends the NBAPA All-Star Youth Summit: Real Talk on Feb. 13, 2015, in New York City.
Bennett Raglin/Getty Images for BET
Kevin Powell attends the NBAPA All-Star Youth Summit: Real Talk on Feb. 13, 2015, in New York City.

He shares the words to "For Cicely Tyson," a poem he wrote after her death.

For Cicely Tyson

Black girls
Black women
rarely told
all in a single, relentless breath
But you are--

Africa and the West Indies
hatched you in Harlem
when Langston and Zora
penciled the blues
and Blackness
into your diamond-slanted eyes
as Ma Rainey and Marcus Garvey
swayed and screamed that
little Black girls
like you
are stars wherever they are
not just the help
not just the mattress
not just the punching bag
not just the mammy
not just the poll watchers or the pole dancers
but miracle chocolate goddesses
overcame and overcome
human-made diseases
like racism and sexual oppression
to straighten and Afro pick a world
where you
pose poetic and pretty-like for magazines
run miles and miles to rescue jazz kings from themselves
and spiritually anchor movies that make Black folks
sounder and sounder in them fields
on them buses
in them African villages
in them classrooms
through the violent and paranoid walls of history--

you are our history
Cicely Tyson
in your 96 years
you gave us
to us
the way our mommas
to us
buttered grits
or breadfruit and plantains
on a Saturday morning
you gave us
to us
the way Harriet Tubman
gave freedom back
to a stolen people
who did not know
they were
you were/are our freedom
you were/are what freedom
looks like
a little girl from Harlem from anywhere
shaves her head bald
glues on eyelashes that tickle the sky’s belly
squeezes her neck with jewelry from the motherland
stares quietly into a camera like the fearless queen she is
fact-checks anyone who thinks dark skin ain’t the Lawd’s blessing
and sings the ancient and sacred words
of a woman who done seen some things
and is ready for her rest:
“I like me
just as I am ...”