top of page

 “I Am – Somebody” is a poem written in the 1950s by Reverend William Holmes Borders, a senior pastor at Wheat Street Baptist Church and civil rights activist in Atlanta, Ga.  The poem is often recited by Reverend Jesse Jackson which he first recited the free verse poem on Sesame Street in 1971.

I Am Somebody

I Am Somebody (Adjunct Version)

I May be an Adjunct! I May be on Welfare!

I am Somebody.

I can't afford suits so I pick them up at the Salvation Army, My clothes are different

I Am Somebody!

I speak a different language, but I must be respected, protected, never rejected!

I may owe hundreds of thousands of dollars to the banks because I was educated

To teach a very detailed and important discipline,

I am Somebody!

I may every day worry about students carrying guns into the hall, I Am Somebody!

I may need a way to stay warm this month because I can't pay my heating bill

I Am Somebody!

I may have no pension, no money in the bank, no credit rating

I am Somebody.

I may have no health insurance because I don't get enough classes assigned to pay for it,

I am Somebody

My degrees are sitting on my wall staring back at me

I am Somebody!

 I may love teaching period, and spend hours writing my thoughts and deleting them later

 I am Somebody!

I have a child or children who needs me to be strong

I am Somebody

 I have to stand in line and get turned down for food stamps with them in my arms.

I am Somebody.

I may get my credit card turned down for gas on the way back from my teaching job

I am Somebody.

I must be respected, protected, never rejected.

I May Be an Adjunct

But I am Somebody.

CCA Students of Color organization confront college president during a captive meeting held by administration. They entered, built the "Stay Neutral" wall and read a statement of support for their professors.

Sing Out

Adjuncts Get Off Your Knees Performance 

Lydia Snow, Instructor of Music, Northeastern Illinois University

I wrote this song right after I saw a flier on several walls on campus inviting students to participate in the Economic Inequality Initiative Speak Out.  There was an email address and they wanted participants to get on the stage during lunch and Speak Out about inequality in their lives. 


Robert Reich’s new movie “Inequality for All” profits had been earmarked for several universities that met the standards of serving students from struggling communities and NEIU was given somewhere around $30,000.00 to hold talks, invite speakers, hold several conferences and set up performances on campus for students to express their experiences.  So I signed up. 

Lydia Snow and colleagues performing "Adjuncts Get off Your Knees."

Feel free to perform and add more versus. Or create a sing out during CEW with your own adjunct songs.

Labor Choirs

The San Francisco Rockin' Solidarity Labor Choir performed at No Justice No Service in 2015, supporting the Adjunct Faculty union campaigns. The choir adapted folk standards celebrating labor for the adjunct work force. Invite the labor choir in your town, start one, or work with the music and performance faculty and students to perform songs of precarity and solidarity.

Second Line funeral for the death of higher education, Chicago, Il April 2015. NEIU and CTU

No Justice No Service, photos by Andrew Rodriguez

Mock Funeral Conducted at CSU East L.A. (Dixieland Jazz Funeral)

Submitted by Judy Olson, Lecturer, California Faculty Association (NEA Local)

Chair, NFM Foundation Board


It was cool. It was a New Orleans-style "funeral" for the death of public education. It was mostly students. Somebody made a small "coffin" and we had puppets for "bodies." We had some musicians playing New Orleans funeral songs and we walked from one spot to another on campus, pausing over the coffins, wailing and mourning.  Each time we placed the coffin, it was a different "death,"--the public good; the California Master Plan; our students' dreams for the future; etc. The students came up with the various "deaths" and one student was assigned to be the chief mourner for each, giving a "eulogy." They researched their different pieces--educational for the students, too. We also had a main "preacher," one of our part-time faculty who is retired from a show business career.

Second Line funeral for the death of higher education, Chicago, Il April 2015. NEIU and CTU

Performances and Processions

In honor of Campus Equity Week 2013  these  adjuncts took to the streets with a hat tip to Brecht and agitprop theater to perform "Hallelujah, I'm a Bum!"

Cast: Accordion/vocals: Brianne Bolin (Chicago adjunct & activist) Acting/vocals: Frank Ehrmann (Occupy Rogers Park) Acting/vocals: John G. Bolin (Second City)

Perform in Public Space









Here are some tips from Aaron.


"My setup was really simple. 

1 Chair / Bar Stool

1 Small Coffee Table

1. Chair. 

White Wash lighting on a stage or platform. 


Just as a caveat. There really is no wrong way to perform this. . . . I create my monologues originally as an improvisation or extemporaneous monologue during a live performance. Then over time, it begins to take shape and have a more predictable and repeatable form.


The 'script' version of this monologue was transcribed during a live performance. So feel free to use it as you need.  As a complete piece. As smaller scene or monologue. Also feel free to set up or light as you find useful. I really want this to be open sourced."


Perform a Play

Image from

Creative Commons

For Profit, a solo play written by Aaron Calafato


The script for this play took shape from Aaron's improvisational performances based on his experience working as an academic counselor tasked with marketing enrollment in a for-profit higher education institution. The play dramatizes the ethical dilemmas faced by educators who want to do the right thing by their students. For Profit has been performed at many colleges and universities in the context of Campus Equity Week, provoking some lively audience discussions afterward.


Use this link to a free download of the script:

Calling all Adjuncts...

Hold an open mic afternoon or evening event in an eatery on campus.


Formulate a few questions that will keep the participants on topic and ask them to respond with their thoughts and feelings for sixty seconds. Allow people to remain seated and pass the mic around the room by having the facilitator carry it from person to person to keep things moving and share the time.

"HR to Adjunct, HR to Adjunct . . ."

Rebrand the academic employer, which many view as wholly benevolent, as a bottom-line corporate employer. Read aloud emails from your administration – have someone publicly perform offensive emails etc. sent from higher-ups.  Collect all the emails to faculty from Human Resources for the past year and reproduce the portions that patronize or marginalize contingent faculty. Identify texts within the university discourse that embody doublespeak or bureaucratic nonsense.

Each person can say something about their work as educators or about their experience of being taught. Have the audience vote to award a prize for the most [moving/provocative/funny, etc.] performance.


End each event with a song. Select a familiar song whose lyrics you can customize that will serve as the audio icon for all events that week, in radio announcements, kicking off each program or display, etc..

Poetry slams and story telling are a good way to share organizing an event wth students, or to highlight the creative writing faculty.

Invite participants by sending out an informal flier encouraging them to write their own spoken word or poem to add to the performance.


Make sure to make your reservation for the space early in September. Try to schedule during Activity Hour or a time when there are a lot of students present.  The Midday hours can work well at some campuses. Or take it off campus and make it an evening event.

Build a soapbox! This one is made by Kristi Holohan

Spoken Word, Poetry Slams, and Open Mics

No Justice No Service, photos by Andrew Rodriguez

Procession for Adjunct Equity

Banner by Hope Rovelto and Jennie Shanker

Photos by Jennie Shanker

The negotiation update is from TAUP's first adjunct contract campaign; it was one of the items we handed out at the "adjunct office"). The graphic was compiled by collectively by the contract campaign committee.

The long banner is from the fight to force Temple to allow adjuncts in TAUP, our existing academic union. The 60 yard long banner depicts the Philly skyline and 1300 people marching, the number of adjuncts faculty at Temple.

bottom of page