For Akua Njeri (Deborah Johnson)*

by Titilope Sonuga

Akua-jail-photo, For Akua Njeri (Deborah Johnson)*, Culture Currents 2337 West Monroe
December 4th, 1969
on the cusp of a new year
19 years old
lay sleeping
a new day
in your belly

8 and a half months
of dreams
for a boy
with a fierce spirit

like his father

prayed for him
the power of speech

like his father

in a world
where a Black man
walks with
a target on his forehead
you prayed for him


“Knock, knock”
“Who’s there?”
“Tommy who?”

bang! bang!

What were you dreaming
of when the first shot was fired
45 rounds
for the 45 times
you must’ve said

“he’ll be just like you”

45 rounds
for the 45 times
he must’ve put
his head to
swollen belly


to his unborn son

So you lay
on top of him
as he slept silently
human shield
for this
21 year old man
with fire on his tongue
this man
who knew the value
of freedom
because you knew
that the world
needed more men
like him

Felt the baby
kick and turn into the space
for fatherless children
then the final shot to the head
our dreams bleed red
on new carpet

“Is he alive”

because you carried
his legacy inside of you

“he is good and dead now”

but never dead

“You can jail a revolutionary, but you can’t jail the revolution”

December 29th, 1969
A new sun rises
Fred Hampton, Jr.

“knock, knock!”
“who’s there?”

*Akua Njeri (fna Deborah Johnson) is a former member of the Illinois Chapter Black Panther Party. She is a survivor of the Dec. 4, 1969, assassination of Chairman Fred Hampton and Defense Captain Mark Clark. She is the widow of Chairman Fred and the mother of Chairman Fred Jr.

Njeri is the chairperson of the December 4th Committee, which fights to defend and maintain the legacy of the Black Panther Party and what really happened on that fateful morning. December 4th co-coordinates with POCC (Prisoners of Conscience Committee) the annual Aug. 30 birthday celebration and commemoration of Chairman Fred Hampton and the life, work and commemorative events around the annual December 4th International Revolutionary Day (IRD), the anniversary of the “Massacre on Monroe” – the assassination of Chairman Fred and Defense Captain Mark Clark.

Njeri is the co-author of the proposal to name one Chicago block – 2300 W. Monroe –”Chairman Fred Hampton Way,” a campaign that exposed the dividing line between the interests of the state against the demands of the people.

Njeri coordinates free clothing and fresh vegetable giveaways with POCC and other survival programs. She continues to fight against police terrorism and for the freedom of political prisoners in the U.S. She also is on the Advisory Committee for POCC. For information and speaking engagements, contact December 4th Committee, P.O. Box 368255, Chicago, IL 60636, (773) 256-9451 or

Listen to Titilope Sonuga (pronounced Tee-tee-law-kpeh Show-nu-ga) read this poem. Visit her website at

“For Akua Njeri” read by the poet, Titilope Sonuga