Abiding Faith — Letter 8

Abiding Faith — Letter 8


ChickenBones: A Journal

for  Literary & Artistic African-American  Themes



There were men from Jarratt who did go to Vietnam, like my cousin Von, my

childhood best friend Alvester Maryland, and my high school buddy Richard Harris.

All were deeply affected by the Vietnam war, having gone over as teenagers or young men.


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 8


July 21, 1978


Dear Son,

Just a Word or two let you Know I haven’t forgot you. I do hope this may find you doing OK. As For me doing Fair. I was sick all last week. Lucinda was down last Week End. Come to Annie May King Jones Funeral. Rosa Howell’s Sister.* Lucinda Brought me the rug. I thank you very much for it.

How is School going With you.** Your Cousin Brenda Stith getting married on the 29 of July. All the rest of the Family is doing Very Well. Clint Carter got him a Car 73 Cadillac. Peanut and Pumpkin Come down and stayed 2 weeks. Your Cousin Mary grand Children.

My garden done Very Well this time. Peter and his Wife is in Germany. I thought you was coming home for the Fourth. Chicken did not go to Army.*** He was so confused he took over dose. Went to hospital. They kept him 3 days. He doing OK now. Theresa got her driver license. All send love to you. Norman was home week before last. He told me tell you send him your phone no. Well it getting late I had a hard days work to day. I rite more when I hear From you. Dont wait So long Before you rite. Much love Mother.

Remember I love you,


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*Annie May and Rosa were daughters of Tempie Williams Jackson, Mama’s aunt, sister of Laura, her mother. **During this period, I was living in Washington, D.C. while taking a French course at the University of Maryland, College Park. I needed the course to obtain my B.A. in English. My mentor Dr. Max Wilson arranged for me to live with the Meijers, a Jewish family that lived on the Gold Coast along upper 16th Street, not too far from Silver Spring. Madame Meijer, born in Holland and a refugee of Hitlerite Germany, was a professor in the language department at College Park. Her parents were killed in the holocaust. Her husband, a physics professor, taught at Catholic University. They had two sons and two daughters. They treated me as a member of the family. It was the first household I lived in that had a maid. I do not know how I would have managed to get my degree and begin graduate school that fall without their gracious assistance and thoughtfulness.

***Cleveland “Chicken” Taylor, Edith’s youngest son, did not want to go into the military. This may have occurred on second thought. For, I believe, the draft had been abolished by 1978. Unlike my resistance, his change of heart had little or nothing to do with political reasons. He merely realized that the military was no place for him. He probably was correct in his final conclusions and did what he felt necessary to stay out.

There were men from Jarratt who did go to Vietnam, like my cousin Von, my childhood best friend Alvester Maryland, and my high school buddy Richard Harris. All were deeply affected by the Vietnam war, having gone over as teenagers or young men. They returned to become alcoholics or drug addicts or worst. John Alvin Maryland came back home in a body bag and is buried in Jerusalem cemetery. Many still do not realize the harm done to these young boys who were shipped 10,000 miles to fight in a war that was permeated by moral and political corruption. These young boys’ moral universe was turned upside down by alcohol, drugs, prostitution, and murder. They returned to the countryside without counseling or assistance. There was none there who could understand or appreciate the hell these boy had undergone. They were forced into a war that had no glory and very little meaning.

Letter 7  < > Letter 9

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Ella Jackson Lewis

(August 11, 1910–December 28, 2009)

Makes Her Transition

*   *   *   *   *’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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