ChickenBones: A Journal

for  Literary & Artistic African-American  Themes




“A spiritual heritage reaching back for centuries is a wonderful

support and comfort in face of all temporary stresses and strains.

I believe that the man who is aware of such reserves of power

need not be ashamed of the tender feelings evoked by the

memory of a rich and noble past, for such feelings belong

in my opinion to the better and nobler part of mankind.”

December 17th 1943




Books by Dietrich Bonheoffer

No Rusty Swords / The Cost of Discipleship / Letters and Papers from Prison  /  Sanctorum Communio

A Testament to Freedom: The Essential Writings  /  Psalms: The Prayer Book of the Bible Ethics  

No Difference in the Fare: Dietrich Bonhoeffer and the Problem of Racism

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Letters and Papers from Prison

Excerpts by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Edited by Eberhard Bethge / Translated by Reginald H. Fuller

Macmillan 1953


On Style

“An author’s style is often by itself enough to attract or repel.” [DB speaking of 19th-century German writers] Sunday, July 27th 1943


Prison Life

“Prison life seems to give one a certain detachment from the alarums and excitement of the day.”August 17th 1943

A Lesson on Dependency

“It’s a queer feeling to be so utterly dependent on the help of others, but at least it teaches one to be grateful, a lesson I hope I shall never forget. In normal life we hardly realize how much more we receive than we give, and life cannot be rich without such gratitude. It is so easy to overestimate the importance of our own achievements compared with what we owe to the help of others.” September 13th 1943

Luther’s “Freedom of the Christian Man”

“He [Luther] desired a real unity both for the Church and for Western Christendom, but the consequence was the ruin of both. He sought the ‘Freedom of the Christian Man’, and the consequence was apathy and barbarism. He hoped to see the establishment of a genuine social order free from clerical privilege, and the outcome was the Peasant’s revolt, and soon afterwards the gradual dissolution of all real cohesion and order in society. I remember from my student days a debate between Holl and Harnack as to whether in any movement it was the primary or the secondary motives which finally prevailed.” October 31st 1943

Old Testament & Liberty

“Why is it that the Old Testament never punishes a man by depriving him of his liberty.” November 20th 1943

On Bombings near Berlin

“It is interesting how superstition thrives in times like these and how many are ready to listen, at least with half an ear.” November 28th 1943

Great Battles & Skirmishes

“Great battles are easier to fight than daily skirmishes.” December 15th 1943

Bonhoeffer’s cell in Tegel.

The Unexpected

“It is the unexpected that happens” December 17th 1943

Voyages of Literary Discovery

“A spiritual heritage reaching back for centuries is a wonderful support and comfort in face of all temporary stresses and strains. I believe that the man who is aware of such reserves of power need not be ashamed of the tender feelings evoked by the memory of a rich and noble past, for such feelings belong in my opinion to the better and nobler part of mankind.” December 17th 1943

The Will of God

“Of course, not everything that happens is the will of God, yet in the last resort nothing happens without his will (Matt. 10:29)”  December 18th 1943


Longing for the Transcendent

“But, frankly speaking, to long for the transcendent when you are in your wife’s arms is, to put it mildly, a lack of taste., and it is certainly not what God expects of us. We ought to find God and love him in the blessings he sends us. If he pleases to grant us some overwhelming earthly bliss, we ought not to try and be more religious than God himself. For then we should spoil that bliss by our presumption and arrogance; we should be letting our religious fantasies run riot and refusing to be satisfied with what he gives. Once a man has found God in his earthly bliss and thanked him for it, there will be plenty of opportunities for him to remind himself that these earthly pleasures are only transitory and that it is good for him to accustom himself to the idea of the eternity and there will be more hours in which he can say with all sincerity, ‘I would that I were home’.

Bonhoeffer was hanged in the concentration camp at Flossenbürg on April 9, 1945

“But everything in its season, and the important thing is to keep step with God, and not get a step or two in front of him (nor for that matter, a step or two behind him either). It is arrogance to want to have everything at once–matrimonial bliss, and the cross, and the heavenly Jerusalem., where there is no marriage, nor giving in marriage. ‘To everything there is a season’ (Ecclesiastes 3).” December 18th 1943

Duty to the Past

“Goodness, beauty, and truth, however, and all great accomplishments need time, permanence, and memory., or lese they deteriorate. The man who has no urge to do his duty to the past and to shape the future is a man without a memory, and there seems to me no way of getting hold of such a person and bringing him to his senses. Every word, even if it impresses him for a moment, goes through one ear and out of the other. What is to be done with him? It is a tremendous pastoral problem.” February 1st 1944

Simplicity & Simpleness

‘Simplicity is an ethical category. Simplicity is a quality which can be acquired, simpleness is innate. Simplicty may be acquired by education and may be cultivated, and indeed it is one of the essential objects of education and culture. Simpleness is a gift. the two things are related, it seems to me, much as purity and moderation. One can only be pure in relation to one’s origin or goal, i.e., in relation to baptism or forgiveness in the Eucharist. like simpleness, it is a category which denotes integrity. Once we have lost that purity and we all have lost it–it can only be granted again in faith. But in ourselves, as living and growing persons, we can no longer be pure, but only moderate and that is a proper and necessary object of education and culture.” February 12th 1944

Living with Adversity 

“I think we should live even in this place as though we had no desires and no future to hope for, and just be our true selves. It is remarkable what an influence one acquires in this way over other men. . . . We can have a full life even when we haven’t got everything we want–that is what I am really trying to say.” March 19th 1944


God Out the World

“I began by saying that God is increasingly edged out of the world, now that it has come of age, knowledge and life are thought to be perfectly possible without him. Ever since Kant, he has been relegated to the realm beyond experience.” June 30th 1944

Inner & Outer

“The Bible does not recognize our distinction of outer inner and ‘inner.”

“The discovery of inwardness, so called, derives from the renaissance, from Petrarch perhaps.”

“The ‘heart’ in the biblical sense is not the inward life, but the whole man in relation to God”  July 8th 1944


“It is not some religious act which makes a Christian what he is, but participation in the suffering of God in the life of the world. July 18th 1944


photo above top right:  Bonhoeffer family, March 1943, five days before Dietrich’s arrest. Dietrich is on far left. Rüdiger Schleicher, Klaus Bonhoeffer and Friedrich Perels, also in the picture, were executed in 1945 as well.Christian Kaiser Verlag

*   *   *   *   *’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

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#14 – For the Love of Money : A Novel by Omar Tyree

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#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

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#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

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#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

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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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So Rich, So Poor: Why It’s So Hard to End Poverty in America

By Peter Edelman

If the nation’s gross national income—over $14 trillion—were divided evenly across the entire U.S. population, every household could call itself middle class. Yet the income-level disparity in this country is now wider than at any point since the Great Depression. In 2010 the average salary for CEOs on the S&P 500 was over $1 million—climbing to over $11 million when all forms of compensation are accounted for—while the current median household income for African Americans is just over $32,000. How can some be so rich, while others are so poor? In this provocative book, Peter Edelman, a former top aide to Senator Robert F. Kennedy and a lifelong antipoverty advocate, offers an informed analysis of how this country can be so wealthy yet have a steadily growing number of unemployed and working poor. According to Edelman, we have taken important positive steps without which 25 to 30 million more people would be poor, but poverty fluctuates with the business cycle.

The structure of today’s economy has stultified wage growth for half of America’s workers—with even worse results at the bottom and for people of color—while bestowing billions on those at the top. So Rich, So Poor delves into what is happening to the people behind the statistics and takes a particular look at the continuing crisis of young people of color, whose possibility of a productive life too often is lost on their way to adulthood



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Across That Bridge: Life Lessons and a Vision for Change

By John Lewis

The Civil Rights Movement gave rise to the protest culture we know today, and the experiences of leaders like Congressman Lewis have never been more relevant. Now, more than ever, this nation needs a strong and moral voice to guide an engaged population through visionary change. Congressman John Lewis was a leader in the American Civil Rights Movement. He was chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and played a key role in the struggle to end segregation. Despite more than forty arrests, physical attacks, and serious injuries, John Lewis remained a devoted advocate of the philosophy of nonviolence. He is the author of his autobiography, Walking with the Wind: A Memoir of a Movement, and is the recipient of numerous awards from national and international institutions, including the Lincoln Medal; the John F. Kennedy “Profile in Courage” Lifetime Achievement Award (the only one of its kind ever awarded); the NAACP Spingarn Medal; and the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor, among many others.

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Here lies Jim Crow: Civil rights in Maryland

 By C. Fraser Smith

Though he lived throughout much of the South—and even worked his way into parts of the North for a time—Jim Crow was conceived and buried in Maryland. From Chief Justice Roger Brooke Taney’s infamous decision in the Dred Scott case to Thurgood Marshall’s eloquent and effective work on Brown v. Board of Education, the battle for black equality is very much the story of Free State women and men. Here, Baltimore Sun columnist C. Fraser Smith recounts that tale through the stories, words, and deeds of famous, infamous, and little-known Marylanders. He traces the roots of Jim Crow laws from Dred Scott to Plessy v. Ferguson and describes the parallel and opposite early efforts of those who struggled to establish freedom and basic rights for African Americans.

Following the historical trail of evidence, Smith relates latter-day examples of Maryland residents who trod those same steps, from the thrice-failed attempt to deny black people the vote in the early twentieth century to nascent demonstrations for open access to lunch counters, movie theaters, stores, golf courses, and other public and private institutions—struggles that occurred decades before the now-celebrated historical figures strode onto the national civil rights scene.

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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 24 June 2012




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