Who I Am


      Welcome to my website! My name is Shazzar (Man of God), aka Kujichagulia (Self-Determination), which is the second principle of Kwanzaa! I am a Christian who runs for the glory of God with Perseverance! I was born in Houston, Texas in the Lone Star state, but I was raised in the West in a city called Long Beach, California where the weather is always sunny. It's a nice place to live. I graduated from the University of Southern California where I majored in English (Creative Writing), my favorite professor was Carol Muske-Dukes. I also graduated from California State University at Long Beach with a Master's degree and a Professional Teaching Credential, along with earning two degrees from Long Beach City College where I started my college career. I spend most of my time when I'm not working on my writing positively changing the lives of my students as a high school teacher because a high school teacher helped change my life for the better. I'm inspired daily by the greatest teacher who ever lived Jesus Christ! I walk by faith, and not by sight because we have come This Far By Faith!

      I am an all-around writer, so I write poetry, fiction, plays, inspirational nonfiction and more! Please, sample a few of MY POEMS! I plan on being a great writer like my literary mentors who are Langston Hughes, my main literary role model (the Big Sea had a great influence on our lives), Maya Angelou, my inspiration, James Weldon Johnson, a great man who composed a brilliant career, Sonia Sanchez, she reminds me most of my poetic-self, Nikki Giovanni, a true poetic soul , Pulitzer winner Yusef Komunyakaa, a prolific prized poet, Gordon Parks, a true renaissance man like myself, Mildred D. Taylor, she gave me the hunger to create and the desire to teach through my writing, deft Dorothy West, and was the youngest writer of the Harlem Renaissance, a great period in our history, amazingly wonderful August Wilson, a masterful playwright with powerful words, Sandra Cisneros a wonderful writer who wrote my favorite book to teach, Lorraine Hansberry a dramatic literary star who burned bright, J. California Cooper, a master of the short story, Zora Neale Hurston, a master of poetic fiction, Toni Morrison, winner of the "Nobel Prize in Literature"! Regal Richard Wright, truly a great Black writer, powerful Paul Laurence Dunbar, a pioneer of poetry, Young Adult writer Walter Dean Myers, we share the same creative inspiration to write and express our literary voice, Virginia Hamilton, my first inspiration and the first writer I ever met, and Octavia Butler opened a world of Science Fiction to me! I also admire the great Mark Twain, he was a charismatic writer and a complex character of life! Charles Dickens believed a loving heart is the truest wisdom! My goal is to become a great writer and give honor to those who came before me!

My Books

      Reading books allowed me to widen my horizon and see beyond my line of sight through imagination since I was a child. I’ve read countless books of prose, poetry and drama, but these titles stand among the most profound. “The Inspirational Study Bible” by Minister Max Lucado! This book was a catalyst to my spiritual life. I discovered it over dozen years ago in a thrift shop of an auto salvage yard. It was new, but only priced at a couple of dollars. Someone’s trash became my treasure and I read it daily. ”Acts of Faith” by Iyanla Vanzant was a foundation of daily enlightenment through spirituality and culture when I was a young adult no longer a teenager. The Complete Works of Langston Hughes, since I was a child I’ve admired the all-around writing creative talent of Langston Hughes whom I consider my foremost literary role model. The Books of Maya Angelou, besides Langston as a foremost mentor to my own creative talents there is Maya. She once held my hand and prayed for me when I gave her a poem titled "MaYa ANGELou" (My Angel)! I love the complexity and culture of the "Novels of Toni Morrison", a writer truly worthy of the "Nobel Prize in Literature"! I grew up reading the Novels of Mildred D. Taylor, she taught me everyone has a story to tell. I love the theater, so I love the Plays of August Wilson, my all-time favorite is “Joe Turner’s Come and Gone”, focus on the future and not be imprisoned by the past. The first play to have an impact upon my life was "A Raisin in the Sun" by Lorraine Hansberry. My all-time favorite short story is "My Baby" by the dynamic Dorothy West, which is a soulful story of love and loss. Zora Neale Hurston created a cultural treasure with "Their Eyes Were Watching God". The best coming-of-age novel to envelope in the sublimity of nature is the poetic "Gloryland" by Shelton Johnson, which honors the Buffalo Soldiers of Yosemite National Park. Two novels that instilled in me the power of the pen as a young teenager were ”A Choice of Weapons” and “The Learning Tree" by the great Gordon Parks. The Novels of Charles Dickens always teach important lessons about life. ”The Complete Poems” of ethereal Emily Dickinson have always inspired my creativity and imagination. The Novels of Octavia E. Butler immersed me into a world of cultural science fiction. "Fahrenheit 451" by science fiction legend Ray Bradbury is a visionary tale of self-discovery and my favorite fiction novel to teach. My overall favorite book to teach is one that combines fiction, nonfiction, poetry and prose together to create a unique story of hope and finding one’s own voice titled "The House on Mango Street" by Sandra Cisneros. Another story I love to share with my students comes from the autobiography "Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl" by the amazing Harriet Jacobs; another autobiographical novel that had a powerful effect on the importance of freedom to my life is “The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass”. W.E.B. Du Bois’s "The Souls of Black Folk" helped lay the foundation for the struggle for Civil Rights Movement. I admire people who can evolve into a better person through their conflicts, so “The Autobiography of Malcolm X” inspires me along with a novel that mirrors Malcolm X’s search for identity titled "Invisible Man" by Ralph Ellison. "Black Boy" and “Native Son” by Richard Wright explored poverty and race in America. The novel "The Secret Life of Bees" by Sue Monk Kidd will take you on an emotional journey. ”To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee is a brave Bildungsroman novel that deals with racial injustice in America. The Writing of Edwidge Danticat will allow you to walk in the shoes of the people of Haiti. “The Grapes of Wrath” by John Steinbeck is a novel of stark beauty and realism. Last but not least is "The Complete Works of William Shakespeare", the first great writer of Modern English! Reading allows the reader to travel anywhere and experience anything their imagination dares to visualize! To be a great writer one must first be a great reader. I read so I can write; one day I will write The Great American Novel!

My Music

      I love music, especially GOSPEL (Gospel Flava)! Let's give honor to Negro Spirituals that started it all! Serene Karen Clark-Sheard from The Clark Sisters is one of the closest things to hearing an angel sing and my favorite soloist! Gospel ingénue Kierra Kiki Sheard is continuing The Clark Sisters legacy! Dynamic Dorinda Clark-Cole is the anointed evangelist of The Clark Sisters! Faithful Kirk Franklin is a hero to gospel music! Terrific Tye Tribbett gives God the glory through his music ministry! Radiantly beautiful Radmilla Cody brings culture & spirituality to music as a Black Native American! Dynamic Deitrick Haddon and Voices of Unity (listen) a young minister and choir that takes gospel to a new level. Speech (Arrested Development) is a founder of spiritual hip hop! TENNESSEE by Arrested Development is my all-time favorite rap song! Gospel Hip Hop's all-time best is John Coltrane who created the greatest jazz album of all-time "A Love Supreme), a magnum opus to God who is Love, K-Drama will get you fit to run the race for Christ! Lyrically blessed Tems her music takes me back to my ancestral Nigerian roots! Futuristic Janelle Monáe takes music into a new realm. Nigerian siren Nneka brings Africa to the world. Lecrae spreads the Gospel to reach the people on the streets! Kendrick Lamar the greatest of all-time? Magnificent Solange whose music is more soulful than her big sister! Kinetic Kelsey Lu who makes music that mesmerizes! Jazzy Jonathan Butler is a true worshiper of the Lord! Lovely Lizz Wright, is truly a breath of fresh air to the world of music! Euphoric Esperanza Spalding is a beautiful siren who gives hope to the jazz realm. Sublime Emeli Sandé sings from the soul. The great John Coltrane's "A Love Supreme" is an amazing album and spiritual journey! The Benjamin Gate are my favorites in Christian Rock! Marvelous Nicole C. Mullen sings about how our REDEEMER (video) lives! Sublime Santigold is simply surreal! Group 1 Crew is musically diverse, lyrically relevant, and culturally engaged for Christ! L'essentiel Liz McComb brings majesty to gospel music! Divine DeLeon Richards, one of my first gospel music loves! Spiritual Minded KRS-ONE, Hip Hop's Teacher turns Preacher! The Queen of Gospel music Mahalia Jackson is truly the greatest gospel singer ever! Pastor Shirley Caesar is one of the greatest gospel singers of all-time! Crystal Lewis has been one of my favorite singers since high school! Minister Marvin Sapp sings about God's grace & mercy! Check out some cool Gospel Rap & Hip Hop at Rapzilla, Christian Hip Hop worldwide! For some British flava check out U.K. Gospel! Get ready and let's go to Gospel City! Want to hear some gospel music that'll touch your soul? Visit Nuthin But Gospel Music & Ministry Connection!

My Interests

The Holy Bible is my Favorite Book. My favorite television show growing up was "The Wonder Years", truly a classic! When I got older the "The X-Files" became my favorite! My favorite artists are the inspiring Gilbert Young and the amazing Ernie Barnes, whose artwork bring culture and spirituality to life! I love visiting National Parks, so the African-American Heritage in them are places of Struggle, Community and Triumph. Everyone should experience the beauty of Yosemite National Park because it's truly one of the most sublime places on earth! Meet my friend Park Ranger Shelton Johnson. Learn about the Buffalo Soldiers of Yosemite, giving insight to the many contributions of the Buffalo Soldiers! Take a journey to Salvation Mountain to experience a tribute to "God is Love"! I loved the musical "The Lion King", it's truly an amazing experience set in Africa! I would love to visit my motherland of AFRICA one day; it is The Land where human life began! I take pride in exploring my culture as a Black Indian! I love learning more about my heritage at the California African American Museum! I can spend days exploring the various Smithsonian Museums especially my cultural heritage of the National Museum of African American History & Culture the history of what defines my people, and the National Museum of the American Indian also part of who I am. I love the novel, film and musical of "The Color Purple"! My favorite in dance company is the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, an essence of rhythm & grace! I love running whether if it's track and field or "Running at the Beach"! I also love cooking (I can cook anything), some of my favorite gourmet dishes to prepare are Jamaican food, Creole and Cajun foods, Ethiopian food, and most Soul Food, except beef and anything that has to do with pork (I hate it)! I love the game of Chess because it's full of meaningfulness! I'm someone who believes in knowing the time of day because each moment in life is essential to our existence! I love NIKE because it represents the Goddess of Victory, and inspires me not only in Running the Race, but also to Live Victoriously through Jesus Christ!

My Movies

      I love movies! I truly loved
"The Passion of The Christ", expresses the glory of the death and life of the greatest Man who ever lived! Some of my favorite films are "Eve's Bayou", a masterpiece and one of my all-time favorite films, "The Great Debaters", with the power of speech "we shall not be moved", "Black Panther", the best Superhero movie ever! The sequel "Black Panther Wakanda Forever" makes people of color whether Black or Brown proud to be who they are! "The King's Speech", to face one's fears regally. The extraordinary true story of "12 Years a Slave" is the best film about slavery ever! Maya Angelou's "Down In The Delta", truly magnificent & moving, the classic "Hallelujah", truly a glorious monument in film history, August Wilson's "Fences" and "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom" are theatrical stage masterpieces made into movies, Beautiful "Beasts of the Southern Wild" is magically poetic, "Akeelah and the Bee", simply spellbinding, "To Save A Life", an uplifting and inspirational message, "Amazing Grace", was blind, but now I see, visionary "Dreamkeeper" a cornucopia of Native American culture, "Avatar", one of the best films ever made, "The Book of Eli", always hope in the Good Book, "I Origins", the eyes are the window of the soul, "Monster's Ball", powerful complexity & great depth, soulful "Nothing But A Man", truly one of the best Black love stories of all-time, wonderful "Wattstax", truly a classic concert film featuring the soul-changing song "Peace Be Still" by The Emotions, cinematic "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon", a lyrical masterpiece of visual beauty, "WALL-E" a wonderful film about the desire to not only survive, but to live! "SLAM", lyrical expression of poetics to the fullest featuring Saul Williams, a prolific poet & soulful Sonja Sohn, "LOVE JONES", lyrically speaks poetry to the soul, "Bright Star", a sublime story of love & poetry, "Hustle & Flow", everyone has a dream, "Black Snake Moan", redemption & unconditional love, "Finding Forrester", the power of words!, "Half Nelson", a bond between teacher and student, "Into The Wild", a journey of the soul through self-discovery (God is Love), "RIZE", reaching new heights, "Love & Basketball", a triumph of the heart!, "Black Orpheus", the most lush film I've ever seen featuring the unforgettable Marpessa Dawn, timeless "Romeo and Juliet", a literary classic filled with poetry, "The Lord of the Rings", fantasy-filled journey, "Bridge to Terabithia", keep your mind wide open, inspiring "Something The Lord Made", touches the heart, "Boyz N The Hood", coming of age in the hood, "The Color Purple", truly touches the soul, mighty "Malcolm X", a mentor, "Glory", true courage & sacrifice, "Lincoln", the greatest President! Enchanting "Whale Rider", simply a wonderful film, "28 Days Later", a pure thriller, "The Cider House Rules" introduces Erykah Badu the actress, "Jason's Lyric", the power of love, beautiful Dorothy Dandridge's "Carmen Jones" & "Porgy and Bess" another Dandridge classic about love, "Baby Boy", when boys become men, "Fresh", the freshest film, "Menace II Society", a truthful story, "Hoop Dreams", believe in your dreams, "Chariots of Fire", what true champions are made of, "Without Limits", run without fear, "Endurance", living to run, "Do The Right Thing", always Fight the Power!, uplifting "Get On The Bus", united we stand!, "The Learning Tree", a sentimental awakening, "A Soldier's Story", powerful, "Imitation Of Life", to thyself be true through "The Trouble of the World", nostalgic "The Last Dragon", a childhood classic, "Star Wars",beyond imagination, "Liberty Heights", is freedom to love and to live, "A Little Princess", a precious film, "Sankofa", freedom, "Higher Learning", unlearn, "Forrest Gump", great gumption, "Just Another Girl On The I.R.T.", sista with life, "The Five Heartbeats", soulful, "Superfly", super cool!, "Angel Heart", spellbinding, magical "The Wiz", the first film I saw as a child based on the enchanting Broadway musical "The Wiz", cool "Cooley High", a cinema classic, and a few more! For a Christian perspective please visit Christian Spotlight on the Movies!

My People

      There are a few People I admire who have accomplished great things in Life! I love
Denzel Washington, Oscar-winning excellence and role model! Powerful James Earl Jones has given me so much inspiration to let my voice be heard! Mighty Mos Def a lyrical performer never afraid to speak his mind! Awesome Anthony Mackie, acting with excellence! Wonderful Kerry Washington, a woman beyond cool! Jurnee Smollett has grown up beautifully, she is Eve of "Eve's Bayou"! Amazing Phylicia Rashad has mesmerized since I was a child! Ethereal Erykah Badu (bio), is a gifted singer/actress! Radiant Rosario Dawson is simply delightful to the senses! Tantalizing Thandie Newton is a terrifically talented actress! Gifted Jeffrey Wright is a brilliant actor always ready to shine! Chameleon Chiwetel Ejiofor is brilliant! Thespian Laurence Fishburne (bio) is a fine actor! Beautiful Naomie Harris is such an intriguing actress! Harvard J.D. grad Hill Harper is a gifted human being! Outstanding Orlando Jones a funny and talented actor! Colorful T'Keyah "Crystal" Keymáh is a woman of vision and culture! Comedic Chris Rock makes you laugh and think! Smooth Samuel L. Jackson is one of the best in the business! Will Smith another good role model and actor along with his beautiful wife Jada Pinkett-Smith, she loved my poem "Pink Jade"! Say a prayer for the soul and learn from the life of singer/actress Aaliyah Dana Haughton. Run for "the true prize" of life!

My Mentors

      There are few who inspire me and I call them my mentors:
JESUS CHRIST, my Lord, Savior & Redeemer! Blessed Belteshazzar (the Prophet Daniel), a great man of faith and my namesake! My Parents, without them where would I be? Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is a great man of purpose and vision. The great Langston Hughes is the definition of a writer! Dr. Maya Angelou is truly magnificent! James Weldon Johnson taught us to "Lift Every Voice and Sing"! Kevin Johnson, a great basketball player who gave me my first scholarship and someone who keeps Hope alive! Pastor Max Lucado is a true man of God. President Barack Obama, a man of Hope and Change! Gordon Parks, proves there are no boundaries to creativity, W.E.B. Du Bois, a great man of intellectual vision. Frederick Douglass, a true freedom fighter. Malcolm X, a powerful voice of evolution of one's self and people. Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds taught me about chivalry! Denzel Washington, the greatest actor alive. James Earl Jones is a man who proves that greatness can be achieved no matter what one's beginnings are. Chariot of Fire's Eric Liddell, a Christian runner who truly ran the race! Sonia Sanchez, we share the same poetic essence! Powerful Pharaoh Akhenaten the first to believe in one god. I will achieve greatness as a writer, runner, teacher and speaker using my gifts to do the will of God!


My Favorite Links

This Far By Faith! Negro Spirituals! Black History! Christian Answers! The First Christians! Directory of Heroes! Streaming Faith! Philosophy of Religion! PBS National Parks! California African American Museum! Black America Web! Rolling Out! Return to Glory! Poets & Writers! African American Literature! Black Poetry! IAAF (track & field)! USATF (track & field)! Flotrack! Rapzilla (Christian Hip Hop)! Dictionary! Black Voices! Native American Authors! "Famous People Who Stutter"! Ebony Magazine (I'm in the April 1999 issue on p. 15)!

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