Archives For African-American

 

This week marked the anniversary of the death of poet Paul Laurence Dunbar.

In remembrance of his life and work, here are five of our favorite poems by him…

Frederick Douglass
Paul Laurence Dunbar

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The Rhythm of a Movement

A Review of

Nothing but Love in God’s Water: Black Sacred Music from the Civil War to the Civil Rights Movement
Robert Darden

Hardback: Penn State UP, 2015
Buy now:  [ Amazon ]  [ Kindle ]

 

Review by Sam Edgin

 

At the end of his introduction to Nothing but Love in God’s Water: Black Sacred Music from the Civil War to the Civil Rights Movement, the book’s author, Robert Darden, uses a quote from a former slave to wrap together the themes of intensity, adaptability, community, and especially rhythm and religion that he says beat within black sacred music. The slave, remembering the songs of his childhood, says that the “…weird and mysterious music of the religious ceremonies moved young and old alike in a frenzy of religious fervor.” These spiritual songs, paired to a religion that stood on the side of the oppressed and promised a better world, fueled what Darden calls a “movement” (emphasis his) that spanned generations and changed the world.

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Alice Walker Reading Poems.

February 7, 2014 — 1 Comment

 

Alice Walker

Sunday February 9th marks the 70th birthday of poet Alice Walker…

We honor the occasion with four videos of her reading poems:

Poetry Books by Alice Walker ]

“I will Keep Broken Things”

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Today is the birthday of poet Nikki Giovanni…

A poem from

The Selected Poems of Nikki Giovanni

Hardback: Wm. Morrow, 1996
Buy now: [ Amazon ]

*** Other Books by Nikki Giovanni





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On Imagination
Phillis Wheatley

( Wheatley was freed from slavery
on this day in 1775.)

Phillis WheatleyTHY various works, imperial queen, we see,
   How bright their forms! how deck’d with pomp
     by thee!
Thy wond’rous acts in beauteous order stand,
And all attest how potent is thine hand.
From Helicon’s refulgent heights attend,
Ye sacred choir, and my attempts befriend:
To tell her glories with a faithful tongue,
Ye blooming graces, triumph in my song.
    Now here, now there, the roving Fancy flies,
Till some lov’d object strikes her wand’ring eyes,
Whose silken fetters all the senses bind,
And soft captivity involves the mind.
   Imagination! who can sing thy force?
Or who describe the swiftness of thy course?
Soaring through air to find the bright abode,
Th’ empyreal palace of the thund’ring God, Continue Reading…

 

Maya Angelou
The final installment in our National Poetry Month Series of Poets reading their poems.

Two poems from Maya Angelou,

The first, “Life Doesn’t Frighten Me” can be found in

The Complete Collected Poems of Maya Angelou.
Hardback: Random House, 1994.
Buy now: [ Amazon ] [ Kindle ]





“Abundant Hope” (from the 2011 dedication of the MLK memorial in Washington DC)



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Langston Hughes Reading his PoemsIn our continuing National Poetry Month series of poets reading their poetry,
here’s Langston Hughes reading two poems:

These recordings can be found on:

The Voice of Langston Hughes.

Audio CD: Smithsonian, 1995.
Buy now:
[ CD – Amazon ] [ MP3 – Amazon ]


The Weary Blues:


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Although Gil Scott-Heron is often called “the godfather of rap,” he never wanted that title. Like contemporary rap artists, he spoke biting social commentary, repeating refrains for emphasis, but his performances showcased the musicality of the spoken word, set against an ensemble of bluesmen. Scott-Heron considered himself a “bluesologist,” a verbal Coltrane of poetry, percussion and politics.

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This week saw two excellent new books on the Civil Rights movement made available as free Kindle ebooks!

(Feb 8 – The offer for one of the ebooks is now over… Only the Joseph Lowery book remains…  )

If you’re like me and don’t have a Kindle, you can still read these on your computer or phone by downloading the appropriate Kindle app (it’s free!) and then using it to read your ebook!

I’m sure these are limited-time offers, so if you want them, get ’em soon!

 

“The Present Crisis”
James Russell Lowell

A Poem for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

[Editor’s Note:  John Howard Yoder mentions this poem in THE WAR OF THE LAMB (reviewed above) as significant in the life and work of Martin Luther King, Jr. ]



WHEN a deed is done for Freedom, through the broad earth’s aching breast
Runs a thrill of joy prophetic, trembling on from east to west,
And the slave, where’er he cowers, feels the soul within him climb
To the awful verge of manhood, as the energy sublime
Of a century bursts full-blossomed on the thorny stem of Time.

Through the walls of hut and palace shoots the instantaneous throe,
When the travail of the Ages wrings earth’s systems to and fro;
At the birth of each new Era, with a recognizing start,
Nation wildly looks at a nation, standing with mute lips apart,
And glad Truth’s yet mightier man-child leaps beneath the Future’s heart.

So the Evil’s triumph sendeth, with a terror and a chill,
Under continent to continent, the sense of coming ill,
And the slave, where’er he cowers, feels his sympathies with God
In hot tear-drops ebbing earthward, to be drunk up by the sod,
Till a corpse crawls round unburied, delving in the nobler clod.

For mankind are one in spirit, and an instinct bears along,
Round the earth’s electric circle, the swift flash of right or wrong;
Whether conscious or unconscious, yet Humanity’s vast frame
Through its ocean-sundered fibres feels the gush of joy or shame;-
In the gain or loss of one race all the rest have equal claim.

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