ChickenBones: A Journal

for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes



a subject matter that is as cultural pertinent as the works of Coltrane or Miles Davis. Indeed, any real fan of Miles,

Trane, and Monk would know that they all either studied or listened to classical music. It is well know that Bird

loved listening to the Firebird Suite. No doubt each one of these giants of jazz would have loved this site.



CDs of Still’s Compositions by Various Artists

Works by William Grant Still   / The American Scene  / Music of William Grant Still   / 

Still/Dawson/Ellington: Symphony No. 2/Negro Folk Symphony/Harlem  /

Still: Symphony No. 1; Ellington: Suite from “The River”

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  A Search for William Grant Still Song of a New Race

By Amin Sharif


The ability to see beauty in another people’s culture is a raw quality-especially in race conscious America. Bill Zick is one of those rare persons who has found a unique way to celebrate the achievements of African people throughout the world. Bill has established a website devoted totally to the composers of black classical music. Samuel Coleridge, Le Chevalier Sainte George, Micheal Mosoeu Moerane have respectively composed classical music for audiences in America, Europe, and South America. 

Yet, until now, there has been no central resource that anyone, African, African-American or otherwise, could access that would tell them the story of how composers of African decent have contributed to the classical period. Bill’s website has changed all of that. It was my great fortune to find Bill’s site when I was trying to locate a poem that William Grant Still set to music. Still is considered, by some, to be the greatest Afro-American composer of classical music. Still’s Afro-American Symphonies No.1 and No. 2 are considered to be as important to American music as the woks of Copeland or Ellington-who was also a composer of classical music. Bill was kind enough not only to direct me to where I could find the poem. But, he also gave me some insight on how his love of classical music began. Bill states that for thirty years he heard only the works of “white classical’ composers. But, in 1993, Bill found the CDs of the “Detroit Symphony Orchestra featuring the works of Duke Ellington, William Levi Dawson and William Grant Still.” It seem s that these woks made a great impression on him. He says, “I enjoyed them greatly, and realized it was not the quality of the works that that explained their relative neglect by the classical music establishment.”

When Bill retired due to a medical problem, he decided to “use the Internet to communicate his findings.” What Bill has constructed is a fine-if not the finest site on the subject of African, Afro-American, Afro-European, and Afro-Latin composers. His site is bilingual, in English and in French. He says that the page on the Afro-French composer Le Chevalier de Saint George receives as many visitors as the English counterpart.

Obviously, Bill is quite serious about his work. The site is both attractive, informative and fun. Bill has a quiz that one can take after reading about little and more well known black composers. But since the site has been around since 2000, Bill had had plenty of time to refine the site. In my humble opinion, Bill has done a fantastic job bringing to light a subject matter that is as cultural pertinent as the works of Coltrane or Miles Davis. Indeed, any real fan of Miles, Trane, and Monk would know that they all either studied or listened to classical music. It is well know that Bird loved listening to the Firebird Suite. No doubt each one of these giants of jazz would have loved this site.

Africlassical is an extraordinary experience in black music. That, it was constructed by a cool white cat (Bill Zick) makes it all amazing. Well done, Bill!

posted 5 March 2005

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AfriClassical (Blog)

A companion to, a website on African Heritage in Classical Music. Meet 52 Black composers and musicians, take a Black History Quiz and hear over 100 audio samples at the site.

William J. Zick

Dear Friends, In March 2005, Amin Sharif wrote a glowing review of my website,, for which I remain grateful and which is quoted on the Reviews page of my site. The website has a new companion blog, For my first post on July 20, 2007 I chose to discuss the cover art of Calliope 9373 (2007), released in June.  Earlier, I had expressed the same concerns in an E-mail to the U.S. distributor, Harmonia Mundi USA.  I have since learned that a famous French cartoonist named Cabu was commissioned to produce the cover image of Saint-Georges. In the cover picture, everyone else wears normal 18th century attire.  Saint-Georges, the only person of color in the scene, wears a red outfit with white polka dots!  It is absurdly inappropriate!  In my mind it resembles nothing more than the demeaning attire of a minstrel performer! A lengthy reply has been made by E-mail on behalf of Calliope, saying the cover art was created by “two great artists.”  It is reproduced in full in a post in which I answer the pertinent points in the reply: Are we rescuing classical composers and musicians of African descent from obscurity only to see them ridiculed on CD covers? Please consider blogging or writing about this issue.  Thanks in advance. Best wishes, Bill Zick Ann Arbor, MI

posted 29 July 2007

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#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

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#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

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#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

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

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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.—


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The New Jim Crow

Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness

By Michele Alexander

Contrary to the rosy picture of race embodied in Barack Obama’s political success and Oprah Winfrey’s financial success, legal scholar Alexander argues vigorously and persuasively that [w]e have not ended racial caste in America; we have merely redesigned it. Jim Crow and legal racial segregation has been replaced by mass incarceration as a system of social control (More African Americans are under correctional control today… than were enslaved in 1850). Alexander reviews American racial history from the colonies to the Clinton administration, delineating its transformation into the war on drugs. She offers an acute analysis of the effect of this mass incarceration upon former inmates who will be discriminated against, legally, for the rest of their lives, denied employment, housing, education, and public benefits. Most provocatively, she reveals how both the move toward colorblindness and affirmative action may blur our vision of injustice: most Americans know and don’t know the truth about mass incarceration—but her carefully researched, deeply engaging, and thoroughly readable book should change that.—Publishers Weekly

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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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Negro Digest / Black World

Browse all issues

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


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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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update 29 December 2011




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Related files: George Augustus Polgreen Bridgetower, 1780-1860

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