Abiding Faith Letter 26

Abiding Faith Letter 26


ChickenBones: A Journal

for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes



In New Orleans, I fell among numerous writers and artists, including Kalamu ya Salaam, Richard

Katrovas, Maxine Cassin, Lee Meitzen Grue, Grace Bauer, Jesse Benvenuto, Labertha McCormick,

James Baptiste, Sharon Olinka, Mona Lisa Saloy, Gillian Conoley, and Yusef Komunyakaa. While there

I started a little magazine of graphics and poems, entitled CRICKET: Poems and Other Jazz.



Letters of an Abiding Faith:

Legacy of a Slave’s GrandDaughter to her Son

written by Ella Lewis to her Son (Rudolph Lewis)

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Letter 2


August 4, 1984


Dear Son,

just a Word to give answer to your letter. I glade you Find a school.* But I hate you got to move again. But I hope you can find a place all Furniture in it because spending Money Buying Furniture is Just a waste of money. How Far is this place from Where you living at now. You say you diden want to lose your girl friend.* If she love you and you love her you will not lose her Because if it meant For you to marry you Will no matter how long it Take.

Here’s some mail come For you. I sending it any way. All here send love to you. Every Body is still Working. I do hope you all are doing fine. Give my love to Jean. Tell her rite me some Times. Altho I am a poor riter. I rite more When I hear from you. So dont wait So long. It all most time For the mail Man. So I send off much love.

All ways Mother

I love you

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*I found another position at the University of New Orleans UNO, teaching composition and literature. I may still have been in Monroe, readying myself to move to New Orleans. My stay in New Orleans would prove to be the most productive and creative period to date. But it would also bring much sadness. First, it meant that Ella Jean and I would have to part. Though she visited me in New Orleans, I never again went to Monroe. 

In New Orleans, I fell among numerous writers and artists, including Kalamu ya Salaam, Richard Katrovas, Maxine Cassin, Lee Meitzen Grue, Grace Bauer, Jesse Benvenuto, Labertha McCormick, James Baptiste, Sharon Olinka, Mona Lisa Saloy, Gillian Conoley, and Yusef Komunyakaa. While there I started a little magazine of graphics and poems, entitled CRICKET: Poems and Other Jazz. I was greatly assisted in this effort by Gillian Conoley. I paid for three issues out of pocket. I also sponsored a poetry contest and offered prizes, with a reading at an uptown bar, called Maple Leaf. I created a stir in my two years in New Orleans. It was there in New Orleans that I discovered the magnificence of Marcus Bruce Christian, who in many ways changed the direction of my life.

Lee Meitzen Grue continues as editor of The New Laurel Review (NLR). She is also author of French Quarter Poems and In the Sweet Balance of the Flesh. Lee was kind enough to publish several of my poems and essays in NLR, including a bio-sketch of Mama and photographic images of her home-made quilts (Spring/Fall 1984 issue). Kalamu authored Iron Flowers (1976) and programmed seven hours of jazz for WWOZ. John Baptiste was a writer for The Louisiana Weekly and was former editor for The Black Pages. Labertha McCormick was a member of the then revived Congo Square Writers Workshop. Carnegie University Press published Gillian Conoly’s Some Gangster Pain (1987). Jesse Benvenuto did the graphics for the third and final issue of CRICKET (1985).

While in New Orleans, I flew to San Francisco and spent a week with a young lady in Oakland who had come to New Orleans for a visit. While there we went on a retreat to the wine country. This was my first and only trip to California. Leaving the heat and humidity of New Orleans, the coolness of the nights surprised me. I also visited Berkeley. I also spent a day walking throughout San Francisco, from community to community. I loved the hills and pastel colors of the houses. The walk was so appealing I never rode the San Francisco streetcar. Though I was in northern California for a week, I spent only a day across the bay.

*   *   *   *   *’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

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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

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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

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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)

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Ancient African Nations

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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

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The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

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

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