Abiding Faith Letter 19

Abiding Faith Letter 19


ChickenBones: A Journal

for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes



My mentor Dr. Wilson, fearing my safety knowing my temperament, objected to my going into

the deep South. But I wanted to know New Orleans and Monroe was three hundred miles from

that romantic city. I had been there before while I was married in the early 1970s. Then I gave

my 59 Porche to a friend named Steve Smoot.



Letters of an Abiding Faith:

Legacy of a Slave’s GrandDaughter to her Son

written by Ella Lewis to her Son (Rudolph Lewis)

*   *   *   *   *

Letter 19

April 22,1983*


Dear Son,

Just a Few lines to give answer to your letter I received some time ago. Very glade to hear From you and Know you was doing fine. I sorry it took me So long to rite.. I hope you forgive me. No 1 I hate to rite No 2 I Been Sick and Some Worried. So I feel Some Better So I try to drop you a Few line.

No Body is well. Susie is sick too. Also Aunt Sal.** We had So much rain down here. Also last week we had an inch Snow. I haven’t started my garden as yet. It Been So Wet. Gwen was down last week End.*** I ask her when had she seen you. She say she haven’t. But she Call you. My teeth giving me lot of trouble. My glasses need changing too I guess that Why my Eyes giving me a lot of trouble.***** So you take care of your self. Rite when you can.

From Mother

I love you

*   *   *   *   *


*That summer of 1983 I worked as an English Skills Specialist for the University of Maryland College Park. Under the encouragement of Dr. Donna Hamilton, my former Shakespeare teacher, I interviewed that summer  for a teaching position at the University of Northeast Louisiana University (NLU). The school paid for my flight to Monroe for the interview. The evening after the interview before I caught the plane, I was treated to a cat fish dinner by the dean. On my return to Maryland, I talked to several professors in the English Department before I made my decision to accept the position. My mentor Dr. Wilson, fearing my safety knowing my temperament, objected to my going into the deep South. But I wanted to know New Orleans and Monroe was three hundred miles from that romantic city. I had been there before while I was married in the early 1970s. Then I gave my 59 Porche to a friend named Steve Smoot. He never picked it up and it was eventually towed away. I then sold all that I had and caught the Trailways bus. I stayed in New Orleans two weeks in one-room hotels for bums that cost four dollars a night. I had the blues. I spent most of my time in the French Quarter. For awhile I shared a room with a fellow I met in Biloxi. Feeling uncomfortable, I later got my own room. But I soon ran out of money and had to call my wife and a female friend for money to get back to Baltimore.

**Aunt Sal,” a variant of Sally, the name of Mama’s sister. The word “aunt” is often pronounce with the clipped “aint.” By the date of this letter, Aunt Sal had moved off of South Freemont, I believe, into one of the new low-rise project houses with her daughter Laura..

***Gwen was David’s estranged wife. I lived with her and her girl friend without charge in Fort Washington for several months after I came back from Africa. I was hired before I left Jarratt for an adjunct position with the University of the District of Columbia. I later got a room in Washington.

****At the writing of this letter, Mama was seventy-two years old. By this time, she had been in retirement about seven years. From 1948 until about 1976, she worked six days a week at Jarratt Motel as a cook for dirt pay. Her starting pay in the late 40s was less than $18 a week for six days work. Before then she and Daddy had worked as sharecroppers for Luther Creath from about 1926. Mama also cooked, washed, cleaned his house, and helped to raise his children. She, Daddy, and their daughters lived on his farm at least ten years sharecropping.

*   *   *   *   *’s 25 Best Selling Books



#1 – Justify My Thug by Wahida Clark #2 – Flyy Girl by Omar Tyree #3 – Head Bangers: An APF Sexcapade by Zane #4 – Life Is Short But Wide by J. California Cooper #5 – Stackin’ Paper 2 Genesis’ Payback by Joy King #6 – Thug Lovin’ (Thug 4) by Wahida Clark #7 – When I Get Where I’m Going by Cheryl Robinson #8 – Casting the First Stone by Kimberla Lawson Roby #9 – The Sex Chronicles: Shattering the Myth by Zane

#10 – Covenant: A Thriller  by Brandon Massey

#11 – Diary Of A Street Diva  by Ashley and JaQuavis

#12 – Don’t Ever Tell  by Brandon Massey

#13 – For colored girls who have considered suicide  by Ntozake Shange

#14 – For the Love of Money : A Novel by Omar Tyree

#15 – Homemade Loves  by J. California Cooper

#16 – The Future Has a Past: Stories by J. California Cooper

#17 – Player Haters by Carl Weber

#18 – Purple Panties: An Anthology by Sidney Molare

#19 – Stackin’ Paper by Joy King

#20 – Children of the Street: An Inspector Darko Dawson Mystery by Kwei Quartey

#21 – The Upper Room by Mary Monroe

#22 – Thug Matrimony  by Wahida Clark

#23 – Thugs And The Women Who Love Them by Wahida Clark

#24 – Married Men by Carl Weber

#25 – I Dreamt I Was in Heaven – The Rampage of the Rufus Buck Gang by Leonce Gaiter


#1 – Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention by Manning Marable #2 – Confessions of a Video Vixen by Karrine Steffans #3 – Dear G-Spot: Straight Talk About Sex and Love by Zane #4 – Letters to a Young Brother: MANifest Your Destiny by Hill Harper #5 – Peace from Broken Pieces: How to Get Through What You’re Going Through by Iyanla Vanzant #6 – Selected Writings and Speeches of Marcus Garvey by Marcus Garvey #7 – The Ebony Cookbook: A Date with a Dish by Freda DeKnight #8 – The Isis Papers: The Keys to the Colors by Frances Cress Welsing #9 – The Mis-Education of the Negro by Carter Godwin Woodson

#10 – John Henrik Clarke and the Power of Africana History  by Ahati N. N. Toure

#11 – Fail Up: 20 Lessons on Building Success from Failure by Tavis Smiley

#12 –The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander

#13 – The Black Male Handbook: A Blueprint for Life by Kevin Powell

#14 – The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates by Wes Moore

#15 – Why Men Fear Marriage: The Surprising Truth Behind Why So Many Men Can’t Commit  by RM Johnson

#16 – Black Titan: A.G. Gaston and the Making of a Black American Millionaire by Carol Jenkins

#17 – Brainwashed: Challenging the Myth of Black Inferiority by Tom Burrell

#18 – A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose by Eckhart Tolle

#19 – John Oliver Killens: A Life of Black Literary Activism by Keith Gilyard

#20 – Alain L. Locke: The Biography of a Philosopher by Leonard Harris

#21 – Age Ain’t Nothing but a Number: Black Women Explore Midlife by Carleen Brice

#22 – 2012 Guide to Literary Agents by Chuck Sambuchino #23 – Chicken Soup for the Prisoner’s Soul by Tom Lagana #24 – 101 Things Every Boy/Young Man of Color Should Know by LaMarr Darnell Shields

#25 – Beyond the Black Lady: Sexuality and the New African American Middle Class  by Lisa B. Thompson

*   *   *   *   *

Sex at the Margins

Migration, Labour Markets and the Rescue Industry

By Laura María Agustín

This book explodes several myths: that selling sex is completely different from any other kind of work, that migrants who sell sex are passive victims and that the multitude of people out to save them are without self-interest. Laura Agustín makes a passionate case against these stereotypes, arguing that the label ‘trafficked’ does not accurately describe migrants’ lives and that the ‘rescue industry’ serves to disempower them. Based on extensive research amongst both migrants who sell sex and social helpers, Sex at the Margins provides a radically different analysis. Frequently, says Agustin, migrants make rational choices to travel and work in the sex industry, and although they are treated like a marginalised group they form part of the dynamic global economy. Both powerful and controversial, this book is essential reading for all those who want to understand the increasingly important relationship between sex markets, migration and the desire for social justice. “Sex at the Margins rips apart distinctions between migrants, service work and sexual labour and reveals the utter complexity of the contemporary sex industry. This book is set to be a trailblazer in the study of sexuality.”—Lisa Adkins, University of London

*   *   *   *   *

Salvage the Bones

A Novel by Jesmyn Ward

On one level, Salvage the Bones is a simple story about a poor black family that’s about to be trashed by one of the most deadly hurricanes in U.S. history. What makes the novel so powerful, though, is the way Ward winds private passions with that menace gathering force out in the Gulf of Mexico. Without a hint of pretension, in the simple lives of these poor people living among chickens and abandoned cars, she evokes the tenacious love and desperation of classical tragedy. The force that pushes back against Katrina’s inexorable winds is the voice of Ward’s narrator, a 14-year-old girl named Esch, the only daughter among four siblings. Precocious, passionate and sensitive, she speaks almost entirely in phrases soaked in her family’s raw land. Everything here is gritty, loamy and alive, as though the very soil were animated. Her brother’s “blood smells like wet hot earth after summer rain. . . . His scalp looks like fresh turned dirt.” Her father’s hands “are like gravel,” while her own hand “slides through his grip like a wet fish,” and a handsome boy’s “muscles jabbered like chickens.” Admittedly, Ward can push so hard on this simile-obsessed style that her paragraphs risk sounding like a compost heap, but this isn’t usually just metaphor for metaphor’s sake. She conveys something fundamental about Esch’s fluid state of mind: her figurative sense of the world in which all things correspond and connect. She and her brothers live in a ramshackle house steeped in grief since their mother died giving birth to her last child. . . . What remains, what’s salvaged, is something indomitable in these tough siblings, the strength of their love, the permanence of their devotion.—WashingtonPost

*   *   *   *   *

The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

*   *   *   *   *

Ancient African Nations

*   *   *   *   *

If you like this page consider making a donation

online through PayPal

*   *   *   *   *

Negro Digest / Black World

Browse all issues

1950        1960        1965        1970        1975        1980        1985        1990        1995        2000 ____ 2005        


*   *   *   *   *

The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for Slavery /

George Jackson  / Hurricane Carter

*   *   *   *   *

The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

The Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804  / January 1, 1804 — The Founding of Haiti 

*   *   *   *   *


*   *   *   *   *

ChickenBones Store







update 31 December 2011




Home AFLTable Introduction  

Post Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.