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Seattle Histories: Take a Knee

Kibibi Monie

Words and video by Kibibi Monié

I was born at Providence Hospital at 8:09 p.m. on October 8, 1948. The Yesler Terrace housing projects is where I got most of my formal training as a performing artist and writer. I have always been a guardian of the underdog in my community. Teaching my neighborhood dancing, singing, and acting classes was always who I was—even way back then. I wrote, performed, and directed my first play at the Neighborhood House at the age of nine.

My mother was our chaperone when we performed at the Black and Tan, 410 Supper Club, Ernestine’s Place, Mardi Gras Tavern on Madison Street, and all the other adult clubs that we were too young to perform in during the ‘60s and early ‘70s.

I loved and still love my Black communities. Due to my vast training as a dancer, singer, writer, and actor, I’ve been blessed to pass my skills on to those in and outside of my surrounding neighborhood.

A screenshot of Kibibi Monie reciting her poem.

Click on the image above to listen to Ms. Kibibi Monié recite her poem, Take a Knee (Vimeo, 00:03:45).

For this piece, Take a Knee, God gave me the words and I wrote them. And it just kept flowing from there. I was thinking about all the madness, the killing, and all the ills of our planet.

For some reason, there is this one passage that I struggled with memorizing. It’s almost as if it was too hurtful to keep in my mind. There was something inside me like I was trying to protect myself from the truth of this passage: “Ongoing hateful discrimination, violence, and shameful elimination.”

Kibibi MonieContributor Kibibi Monié is a native of Seattle and the executive director of Nu Black Arts West Theatre (NBAWT), the oldest African American Theater Company in the Pacific Northwest. Ms. Monié is the first African American to be President of the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA) Seattle local. She is an accomplished writer, actor, singer, and director. A graduate of The Evergreen State College in Olympia with a BA in Communications, she also holds a master’s degree from Seattle University from the Executive Director Master’s Program and a diploma in cinematography from The New York Film Academy.

Ms. Monié has been blessed with a captivating talent in storytelling and is legendary for capturing her audiences with grace and style. Kibibi is a Nana for the Cape Coast people in Ghana West Africa and has for several years been in partnership with The National Theatre of Ghana and the Twedaase Primary School in Tema, Ghana. She’s developed a Cultural Heritage Program for the children of Ghana along with children here in the US. 

This piece was commissioned by the Seattle Department of Neighborhoods as part of their Seattle Histories storytelling project, which highlights the places, people, and events that have shaped the history of Seattle’s communities. These stories, told by community members, emphasize experiences and narratives that may have been overlooked or misrepresented in our city. The opinions expressed and information contained herein do not necessarily reflect the policies, plans, beliefs, conclusions, or ideas of the City of Seattle.