Special to South Florida Times

In a powerful example of art imitating life, author Jonathan pikes’ life served as inspiration for his book I Know Who I Am and I’m Not What You Call Me. The book has been made into a play of the same title that will be staged at the African Heritage Cultural Arts Center in Liberty City from Nov. 12 through 20.

Spikes and Shanteria Griglen initially adapted the book in hopes f staging the play at the Adrienne Arsht Performing Arts Center, where a reading was held in 2013. Spikes said the center, “Signed contract but let the contract expire because they didn’t think (the lay) would garner enough people to recoup the budget they would our into it.”

He thought his dream was over, but then he received a $10,000 rant from the BeMe Miami program for his work with his nonprofit program, the Jonathan Spikes Foundation. “I was able to get another $10,000 from the crowdfunding platform,” and the Knight and Miami Foundations each contributed $5.000 each, Spikes shared.

The idea to have the play staged at the AHCAC crystalized after speaking with center director, Teddy Harrell, whom Spikes said, “was able to work out great deals for us to make it affordable. I didn’t know doing theater was so expensive.”

The play, directed by local theater giant Andre Gainey, is a “story of hope, redemption and restoration,” said Spikes. The life of the main character, Damon McBlessed, is based on Spikes’ life.

One pivotal and especially painful experience occurred when Spikes revealed to his mother that he had been molested by a family friend.

“My mother grabbed a belt,” he shared, “but she beat me with the belt.” Years of therapy helped him to deal with the anger and pain that and other experiences produced within him. Another shocking development has been significant to how Spikes lives his life.

“After we did the reading in 2013, six weeks later discovered I had cancer of the gallbladder, and was given a three year prognosis,” he shared. Three years later, on April 17, 2016, the date the dire prognosis was to have come to fruition, Spikes said he had a big party to celebrate his survival and vowed to be bolder and more courageous.



WHEN: November 12-20, 2016; 2 shows daily; at 3 p.m. and 7 p.m.

WHERE: African Heritage Cultural Arts Center, 6161 NW 22 Avenue, Miami, FL., 33142.

COST: Tickets are $30 in advance and $35 at the door and are available at or

CONTACT: For more information, contact Karen Grey at 954-566-2712 or