ChickenBones: A Journal

for  Literary & Artistic African-American  Themes



We are black, not because we are cursed, for blackness is not a curse; it is a curse only if you think so,

 and you know, it’s nit really a curse then; it’s just the way you think. Blackness,

so far as God is concerned, so far as truth is concerned, is just the same as whiteness; for

God has all kinds of colors in his world, in his universe, and he has not condemned any color.



CDs by C.L. Franklin

My Favorite Sermons  /  Sermons and Hymns  /  Legendary Sermons Only a Look (with Aretha Franklin)


The Eagle Stirreth in Her Nest  /  And He Went a Little Farther


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Give Me This Mountain

C. L. Franklin, Life History and Selected Sermons

Edited by Jeff Todd Titon




C.L. Franklin was a prophet. C.L. Franklin was rare, not just unique; famous because he was well known, but great because of his service. C.L. Franklin, the most imitated soul preacher in history, a combination of soul and science and substance and sweetness.

–Reverend Jesse L. Jackson, from the Foreword.

Few black preachers have been better known than the reverend C.L. Franklin; none has been considered a better preacher. This collection of twenty of Franklin’s best sermons shows the development of his style. A learned man, Franklin had attended both seminary and college, yet in his sermons he used the old-fashioned, extemporaneous style of preaching, “whooping” or chanting, combining oratory and intoned poetry to reach both head and heart.

Dozens of Franklin’s sermons were released on record albums, and he went on preaching tours with gospel groups that included his daughter, Aretha, reaching virtually every corner of the United States.

This volume begins with Franklin’s life history, told in his own words. In an afterword, Jeff Titon reviews the African-American sermon tradition and Franklin’s place in it.

From Give Me This Mountain

We are black, not because we are cursed, for blackness is not a curse; it is a curse only if you think so, and you know, it’s nit really a curse then; it’s just the way you think. Blackness, so far as God is concerned, so far as truth is concerned, is just the same as whiteness; for God has all kinds of colors in his world, in his universe, and he has not condemned any color. All colors are beautiful in the sight of God. The only reason why you entertain a thought like that is because you have been culturally conditioned by white people to think that way, and they conditioned you that way because they used this as a means to an end, to give you a feeling of inferiority, and to then take advantage of you, socially, economically, and politically.

Source: Jeff Todd Titon, ed. Give Me This Mountain: Life History and Selected Sermons (1989)

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Clarence Vaughn Franklin (C.L.Franklin)–born 1915 in a Mississippi sharecropper family–became a nationally known and respected Baptist minister of Detroit, Michigan. He was known as the “man with the golden voice,” not only for his singing, but also for his command of the classical style of Negro preaching. His parents were Rachel and Henry Franklin.

Precocious, he was Baptized at ten and at sixteen nominated for ordination and then accepted as an associated pastor of St. Peter’s Rock Baptist Church in Cleveland Mississippi.

 He later served as pastor in Memphis at New Salem Baptist Church  and then at Friendship Baptist Church in Buffalo, NY. he then settled down for 33 years at New Bethel Baptist Church in Detroit.

C.L. Franklin married Barbara Siggers, a church pianist, and had five children: Erma, Cecil, Aretha and Carolyn, as well as half-brother Vaughn. At Bethel, Franklin started a food ministry for those who could not afford sustenance for themselves or their families, offered financial and legal help for the homeless, and conducted a prison ministry.

He also became involved in politics by urging voters to go out to the polls and vote for the qualified candidates he was endorsing and was an active member in the civil rights movement.

 He co-organized the 1963 “Walk Toward Freedom March” with his close friend, Martin Luther King, Jr. He was also actively involved in such organizations as the Urban League, NAACP, and on the Executive Board of the Southern Christian Leadership Council.

C.L.’s sermons were broadcast on radio nationwide under the Chess Recording Company banner. Rev. Franklin also released 76 live recordings of his sermons and music. He preached at churches all over the country and often brought his daughter, Aretha, though all the children joined CL in his road entourage at one time or another.

His life was shorten, in June 1979, when he was shot during a robbery attempt on his house in Detroit. He remained in a coma for 5 years and died on July 27, 1984. Over 10,000 people attended his funeral at New Bethel Baptist Church. 

Detroit’s mayor, Coleman A. Young, renamed Linwood Street as C. L. Franklin Boulevard, and renamed the park, (located 2 blocks from C. L. Franklin’s house), C. L. Franklin Park.

Reverend C.L. Franklin—Except I Shall See in His Hand the Print of the Nails

(part 1)

Reverend C.L. Franklin—Except I Shall See in His Hand the Print of the Nails (part 2)

*   *   *   *   *’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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1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created

By Charles C. Mann

I’m a big fan of Charles Mann’s previous book 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus, in which he provides a sweeping and provocative examination of North and South America prior to the arrival of Christopher Columbus. It’s exhaustively researched but so wonderfully written that it’s anything but exhausting to read. With his follow-up, 1493, Mann has taken it to a new, truly global level. Building on the groundbreaking work of Alfred Crosby (author of The Columbian Exchange and, I’m proud to say, a fellow Nantucketer), Mann has written nothing less than the story of our world: how a planet of what were once several autonomous continents is quickly becoming a single, “globalized” entity.

Mann not only talked to countless scientists and researchers; he visited the places he writes about, and as a consequence, the book has a marvelously wide-ranging yet personal feel as we follow Mann from one far-flung corner of the world to the next. And always, the prose is masterful. In telling the improbable story of how Spanish and Chinese cultures collided in the Philippines in the sixteenth century, he takes us to the island of Mindoro whose “southern coast consists of a number of small bays, one next to another like tooth marks in an apple.” We learn how the spread of malaria, the potato, tobacco, guano, rubber plants, and sugar cane have disrupted and convulsed the planet and will continue to do so until we are finally living on one integrated or at least close-to-integrated Earth. Whether or not the human instigators of all this remarkable change will survive the process they helped to initiate more than five hundred years ago remains, Mann suggests in this monumental and revelatory book, an open question.

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The People Debate the Constitution, 1787-1788

By Pauline Maier

A notable historian of the early republic, Maier devoted a decade to studying the immense documentation of the ratification of the Constitution. Scholars might approach her book’s footnotes first, but history fans who delve into her narrative will meet delegates to the state conventions whom most history books, absorbed with the Founders, have relegated to obscurity. Yet, prominent in their local counties and towns, they influenced a convention’s decision to accept or reject the Constitution. Their biographies and democratic credentials emerge in Maier’s accounts of their elections to a convention, the political attitudes they carried to the conclave, and their declamations from the floor. The latter expressed opponents’ objections to provisions of the Constitution, some of which seem anachronistic (election regulation raised hackles) and some of which are thoroughly contemporary (the power to tax individuals directly). Ripostes from proponents, the Federalists, animate the great detail Maier provides, as does her recounting how one state convention’s verdict affected another’s. Displaying the grudging grassroots blessing the Constitution originally received, Maier eruditely yet accessibly revives a neglected but critical passage in American history.—Booklist

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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

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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 5 March 2012




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