ChickenBones: A Journal

for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes



That summer I went with her to Hunting Quarter Baptist for a revival sermon by a young preacher. It was

an awful bit of entertainment. Rather than the classical Negro sermon, he followed the new style of being

 a cheerleader for God, begging for agreement after every phrase. Worse, he was long-winded

(about two hours). He was excessive. After he walked the pews . . .



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 50


Feb 12, 1990



Dear Son,

Just a Word to give Answer to your letter which I received. So glade to hear From you and Know you are working.* Some thing Better than nothing I pray you Find Some thing Better after While. I dont want you to go without Eating. If Lucinda Come down this Week End I going to send you Some Food. I still praying For you.

I been Sick all this week I had Ear ache. It Better it left me So Weak.

You talking about children Tell you truth I Could not Be a Teacher.* So many people got children with no manners. I hope this letter will Find you OK. No news But Bad news. No one want to hear that. I hope you Can Come down some time this Spring. So you Just Keep the Faith He might not Come When you Want. But He right on time.

They buried Rudolph Speed Thursday Feb 8, 1990.** He died in hospital in Richmond Va. I am glade For Theresa.*** It nice to Be in Church.**** Lula Givens is Sick too She staying With her Son in Jarratt.

Doc dont you stay up there With nothing to Eat. You Know I will divide What Ever I have. Dont For get that as long as I live.

Love you all Ways Mother

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* My resignation, some may think, was thoughtless of my career and my responsibilities and obligations to Mama. That my be true. God will be the judge. I was out of work, for six months, until my unemployment check ended. I then became a substitute teacher in Baltimore public schools, mostly middle schools. That was a crazy job. It was less teaching than acting as a security cop, keeping the classroom orderly. But it all helped to pay the bills until something better came along. I treated it as learning experience. I thought schools were similar to my own personal experiences as a student. I was wrong.

**Rudolph Speed was married to Nanny B. Speed who had been a teacher at the old Jefferson Elementary school. She died and Mr. Speed married a much younger woman and fathered a child in his late seventies. He made a many an old man proud in Jarratt of what age and money could accomplish. He must have been in his late eighties when he died. As I understand it, he left his young wife and daughter well off. They lived across the tracks that was once restricted to whites only.

***. I am uncertain about the reference to Theresa, my sister. Maybe she had just gotten married. 

****I had started going to church again. This time at New Shiloh under the influence and suggestion of Mary Spriggs, a woman who was associated with 1199 and was a member of New Shiloh. The last time had been in the summer of 1987 when I attended revival services with Miss Lula Bell Givens, Mama’s best friend. That summer I went with her to Hunting Quarter Baptist for a revival sermon by a young preacher. It was an awful bit of entertainment. Rather than the classical Negro sermon, he followed the new style of being a cheerleader for God, begging for agreement after every phrase. Worse, he was long-winded (about two hours). He was excessive. After he walked the pews, I walked out. I regretted I had to abandon Miss Lula Bell. But that kind of religious entertainment is too much for me to bear. At New Shiloh I met Reverend Harold Carter and was impressed by his by the Prayer Tradition of Black People. I attended his church for about a year and again became disenchanted with the Christian church.

*   *   *   *   *’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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