ChickenBones: A Journal

for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes


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Yesterday, I regretted discarding five boxes of LPs. These were choice albums I spent more

than forty years collecting. With dry eyes and a wet heart, I consign my music to the curbside.



Books by Jerry W. Ward  Jr.

Trouble the Water (1997) / Black Southern Voices (1992) / The Richard Wright Encyclopedia (2008)  / The Katrina Papers

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Jerry W. Ward, Jr.  Bio  



Born in Washington, D. C., on July 31, 1943

Lived in Mississippi since 1949 and considers Moss Point, Mississippi home

Parents — Jerry Washington Ward, Sr. and Mary Theriot Ward

Roman Catholic

U.S. Army (1968-70), tour of duty in Vietnam

“Racism is a permanent feature of life in Mississippi and produces its own set of headaches.”

Early literary influences

Carl Sandburg

James Baldwin

“The City,” first poem, 1959, unpublished


9th  grade — Our Mother of Sorrows High School, Biloxi, Mississippi 10th and 11th grade — Magnolia High School, Moss Point, Mississippi

Admitted to Tougaloo College after completion of the 11th grade

B.S.   Tougaloo College, 1964 M.S.  Illinois Institute of Technology,  1966 Ph.D.  University of Virginia, 1978

Poems Include

” Jazz to Jackson to John”

“Your Voice”

“Something from the Gulf”

“Don’t Be Fourteen in Mississippi”  

“Don’t Be Fourteen in Mississippi”


Dillard University (2002-2005), Professor of English

Tougaloo College since 1970-2002, Lawrence Durgin Professor of Literature,  Department of English

University of Virginia, Commonwealth Center, program director/professor, 1990-1991

National Endowment for the Humanities, 1985

SUNY at Albany, teaching fellow, 1966-1968


Areas of Scholarly Interest


American and African American Literature

Literary theory and criticism,

Black Arts Movement

Richard Wright, Ishmael Reed, and Lance Jeffers

Published works include

Black Southern Voices (New York: New American Library, 1992)

Redefining Black Literary History (New York: Modern Language Association, 1990)

Trouble the Water: 250 years of African American Poetry (New York: Mentor, 1997),

Introduction to Richard Wright’s Black Boy (most recent paperback edition)


Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity

Authors Guild

College of Language Association

Modern Language Association


Editorial Boards

African American Review

Literary Griot

Mississippi Quarterly




Fellowship Award, National Humanities Center, Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, 1999-2000

The Public Humanities Scholar Award from the Mississippi Humanities Council, 1998

Moss Professor, University of Memphis, 1996

UNCF Distinguished Scholar-in-Residence, 1987-88

UNCF Distinguished Scholar Award, 1981-82

Tougaloo College, Outstanding Teaching Award, 1978-80

Kent Fellowship, 1975-77


going to the movies, growing herbs, jogging,  listening to blues and jazz, watching special programs especially ETV


Source: JerryWard

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How Should the Displaced Respond

You can go home again.  It would be my first trip into New Orleans since I evacuated myself on August 28.  I did know what to expect.  A colleague from Dillard University, then in Houston, was almost certain that my house had water damage. Television had supplied a surplus of dreadful pictures of the Big Easy as the American Venice and of those citizens who did not leave as well-to-do and defiant or as poor and stress-stricken. Newspapers, magazines, and online journals force-fed me what I should believe. 

Chakula cha Jua was thoughtful: he sent an interactive site that allowed me to see aerial views of my house and neighborhood. Dave Brinks, a brave, purposeful poet, made a site visit to my house, confirming that I had little damage that he could see.  “Come home,” he said, “as soon as you can.  It is crucial that we begin rebuilding immediately.”

Raymond Breaux, in a deadpan voice, stirred all my anxieties when he said New Orleans as we knew it does not exist.  He echoed what Tyrone and Tina Albert said after their visit a week earlier. I was well prepared to be unprepared.

The Findings for 1928 Gentilly Blvd., New Orleans, LA 70119


1) The roof suffered little damage and the ceilings have no water stains

2)  3-5 inches of water flooded the house.  The carpets were soaked. The wooded flooring buckled. These must be removed and replaced. The marble tile must be cleaned and  treated.  The detached garage and workshop was flooded; any books in those areas were destroyed.

3)  The 24 windows suffered no damage.

4)  All rooms in the house must be treated to eradicate as much mold as possible. Removing mold must take place immediately to prevent further damage, especially to books.

5)  The refrigerator, hot water heater,  washer and dryer must be replaced.

6)  Paneling in the kitchen and den areas, the interior and exterior doors and some furnishings (dressers, beds in the master bedroom and guest room) must be replaced

7) To ensure that there are no electrical accidents when the house is inhabited again, it should be completely rewired; the attic, where most of the wiring is located was not inspected.

8) The room used as an office sustained losses that will cause Mr. Ward to be in agony for months. He will grieve over the loss of his two-volume Oxford English Dictionary.

Many reference books, autographed books, papers pertaining to the Richard Wright Encyclopedia and the Cambridge History of African American Literature, Ward’s manuscripts for Reading Race Reading America, Hollis Watkins: An Oral Autobiography, and To Shatter the Iris of Innocence (poetry) are beyond recovery.

The same is true for some videotapes.  The PC and hard drive, 35mm camera, tape recorder, vacuum cleaner, some photographs and the rare Black Box tapes are ruined. Manuscript materials from Tom Dent and Lance Jeffers and Chakula cha Jua were not damaged.

9)  Most of Ward’s clothing and shoes have to be replaced; the mold damage is severe.

10) Ward is luckier by far than 89% of the residents whose homes suffered wind and water damage.

Tentative conclusion: Yes, Margaret, “A race of men shall rise and take control.”

I am far luckier, thank God, than 89% of my fellow New Orleanians. I have been blessed by the prayers of my relatives and friends.  My fortunate circumstances strengthen my resolve to return permanently, to restore my house, to help to restore Dillard University and other educational institutions, to join Dave Brinks and others in grassroots efforts to prevent the NEW New Orleans from becoming a “corporate colony” with a minimal non-white population that is controlled by wealthy and extreme neo-conservatives. I must encourage more people to return.

The natural disasters that are now elements of a national tragedy persuade me to fight a repetition of the Reconstruction era and the nadir of African American experiences, to speak loudly against a replay of the Great Migration. Commitments must gradually erase the depression and periods of near-insanity that have afflicted me since August 29 2005.  I must devote myself to the practice of civic virtue in New Orleans.

Jerry Ward, Jr.

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The Katrina Papers by Jerry W. Ward, Jr  The Richard Wright Encyclopedia (2008)

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The Katrina Papers is not your average memoir. It is a fusion of many kinds of writing, including intellectual autobiography, personal narrative, political/cultural analysis, spiritual journal, literary history, and poetry. Though it is the record of one man’s experience of Hurricane Katrina, it is a record that is fully a part of his life and work as a scholar, political activist, and professor.  The Katrina Papers  provides space not only for the traumatic events but also for ruminations on authors such as Richard Wright and theorists like Deleuze and Guattarri. The result is a complex though thoroughly accessible book.

The struggle with form—the search for a medium proper to the complex social, personal, and political ramifications of an event unprecedented in this scholar’s life and in American social history—lies at the very heart of The Katrina Papers . It depicts an enigmatic and multi-stranded world view which takes the local as its nexus for understanding the global.  It resists the temptation to simplify or clarify when simplification and clarification are not possible. Ward’s narrative is, at times, very direct, but he always refuses to simplify the complex emotional and spiritual volatility of the process and the historical moment that he is witnessing. The end result is an honesty that is both pedagogical and inspiring.—Hank Lazer

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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

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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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posted 4 April 2006 / updated 9 April 2008



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