Tribute to B.Michael (aka Bert) Hunter

I had the pleasure and honor to meet you in June 1994 during my visit to New York City. You and John Manzon were so very kind and gracious to let me stay with them for a few days while I was attending the National Gay and Lesbian Health Conference and the historic Stonewall 25th Anniversary LGBT Pride Parade and Celebration.

Since you passed away in 2001, you missed the emergence of the transgender community becoming more visible within the LGBT and mainstream communities. The transgender community can be inspired by the timeless African American National Anthem “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” which resonates with me because this song reflects inclusion, visibility, civil rights advocacy and activism, and lends a voice to underserved people or others who have been or are currently ignored and disrespected by society.

I am honored to contribute some of my creativity to this project. More and more transgender artists are sharing their talents with the world through live and recorded performances, social and print media, television, radio, and other formats. Please enjoy my piano performance of “Lift Every Voice and Sing.”

Lift Every Voice and Sing
Lyrics by James Weldon Johnson
Music by John Rosamond Johnson

Lift every voice and sing
Till earth and heaven ring,
Ring with the harmonies of Liberty;
Let our rejoicing rise
High as the listening skies,
Let it resound loud as the rolling sea.
Sing a song full of the faith that the dark past has taught us,
Sing a song full of the hope that the present has brought us,
Facing the rising sun of our new day begun
Let us march on till victory is won.

Stony the road we trod,
Bitter the chastening rod,
Felt in the days when hope unborn had died;
Yet with a steady beat,
Have not our weary feet
Come to the place for which our fathers sighed?
We have come over a way that with tears has been watered,
We have come, treading our path through the blood of the slaughtered,
Out from the gloomy past,
Till now we stand at last
Where the white gleam of our bright star is cast.

God of our weary years,
God of our silent tears,
Thou who has brought us thus far on the way;
Thou who has by Thy might Led us into the light,
Keep us forever in the path, we pray.
Lest our feet stray from the places, our God, where we met Thee,
Lest, our hearts drunk with the wine of the world, we forget Thee;
Shadowed beneath Thy hand,
May we forever stand.
True to our God,
True to our native land.

Paula Santos
Paula Santos

Paula Santos is a social worker, public health scholar, LGBT and people of color activist, musician, figure skater, gymnast, dancer, baton twirler, writer, and tech geek. Connect with Paula on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and on her Figure Skating and Piano YouTube channels. Photo: Harold Johnsen

Palm of My Hand

If I had one dream in the palm of my hand
It would be to see tomorrow

If someone questioned me
And asked me to say
What would you hope for
My reply
simple and sweet
is to see tomorrow

Now there is some joy
in knowing that you had
the joys of today
It’s good,
to be in the moment
look back over what has been
but the thought
of facing yet another day
now that’s some joy
I want to have

So I will say
simple and sweet
I’d like so much
I’d like so much
you can be sure
I’d like to see tomorrow
I’d like to see tomorrow

© B.Michael Hunter 1990

“It’s 11:10 on the 5th of June and I’m trying to record — no, I am recording — the melody to a song that I just wrote the rest of the words for. I wrote the first line about a week or two ago and it goes like this …”

Below, on the back of a 4″ x 6″ index card, is where B.Michael wrote the “first line” along with the “rest of the words” for Palm of My Hand.


On the front of the same index card is a single line: “Know my hand has taught the waters …” Wondering if B.Michael auditioned this lyric for the same song or as the seed of another.

To all of you within earshot of B.Michael’s voice, what song or poem emerges for *you* in this moment with this ancestor’s line as a prompt?



B.Michael would have taken a well-deserved TGIF break from law school to attend this gorgeous performance at Boston’s New England Conservatory of Music.


Did you attend this performance? Were you an artist on the bill? Were you B.Michael’s date for the evening? What is the impact on you of reading this program? Would love to hear your reflections here!