A Poem for Haiti

by Maya Angelou


Homo sum. Humani nil a me alienum puto!


I am a human being

Nothing human can be alien to me!

This statement was made

By Terentius Afer.

Terentius was a slave,

Sold to a Roman senator

Freed by that senator.

He became

The most popular playwright in Rome.

Five of his plays

And that statement has

Come down to us from 154 B.C.

That man

Not born white or free

Or with any chance

Of becoming a citizen

In the Rome of his day,

He said, “I am a human being.

Nothing human can be alien to me!”

I have ingested and digested that statement.

It activates me

And motivates me to say,

I’m yours




*Composed extemporaneously by Dr. Maya Angelou, after a screening of “Once There Was a Country,” a documentary detailing the work of Medishare and Partners in Health in Haiti. The screening was held at the Open Society Institute, New York, July 7, 2005.


To see and hear the panel discussion at OSI, including Dr. Angelou’s recital of this poem, click here.