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for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes


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Gospel . . . was born on Chicago's south side more than 40 years ago;

. . .  the music was for many years shunned by middle-class black churches.



Mahalia Jackson CDs

Gospels, Spirituals & Hymns   /  The Best of Mahalia Jackson  /  Black, Brown and Beige   / The Best Loved Spirituals

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Mahalia Jackson: Saturday Night Rhythms 

and Sunday Morning Lyrics

By Cornish Rogers


Gospel singer Mahalia Jackson, who died in Chicago on January 27 [1972], symbolized through her life and music the pilgrimage of black people in the United States during the past half century.

Born in New Orleans in 1911, she early in life became as intimately acquainted with the cadences of black Baptist worship as she was with the daily routine of scrubbing floors in white people's homes. the daughter of a stevedore-preacher, young Mahalia perceived within her won life a tension expressed musically in the dichotomy between the blues and the spirituals. After moving to Chicago in 1927 (joining hundreds of thousands of other blacks in the migration to northern cities), she worked during the week as a beautician and on Sundays became an ardent performer of a developing form of church music that melded Baptist lyrics and a "sanctified beat" with the style of blues and jazz.

Gospelas it was called was born on Chicago's south side more than 40 years ago; but because of its jazz-styled delivery the music was for many years shunned by middle-class black churches. Sung chiefly by storefront Pentecostal, Holiness and sanctified congregations, gospel languished relatively unnoticed by the larger white society until it was brought to public attention in the 40s by such popular singers as Sister Rosetta Tharpe, who managed to attract both churchgoing folk and more worldly black audiences with her winsome combination of Saturday night rhythms and Sunday morning lyrics.

It was not until 1946 that Mahalia, who had recorded her first songs ten years earlier, became nationally recognized; by 1953 she received international acclaim on a European concert tour.

Like the gospel music she sang, Mahalia bridged the gap between the sacred and the secular in her own life without compromising her deep-rooted fundamentalist faith. Moving easily among people from both worlds, she embodied the truth of James Cone's contention (expressed in his soon to-be-published book The Spirituals and the Blues) that both secular blues and sacred spirituals "flow from the same bedrock of experience," though the blues deal only with the existential while the spirituals look to the supernatural.

Mahalia numbered among her most cherished friends from both ends of the theological and political spectrums. For instance, J.H. Jackson (president (president of the National Baptist Convention) and Martin Luther King, Jr.leaders who were often at odds with each other both counted themselves as close friends and admirers of hers. It was she who sang "I been 'buked and I been scorned" before a half-million people at the Lincoln memorial in 1963 just preceding Dr. King's now-famous "I Have a Dream" speech at the greatest of all civil rights demonstrations; and it was J.H. Jackson who delivered the eulogy at her funeral.

But it was the singer's insistence upon remaining unalterably herself that marked her as unique. Unashamed of her humble origins, she projected through her down-to-earth personality and her unassuming manner that quality which black people call "homebodyness"as though she were a close relative from "down home." Like her friend Louis Armstrong, she achieved a universality by living faithfully within the confines she aspired to become the best. because Mahalia's life rang true to itself, it rings true for all of us.

Source: The Christian Century (1 March 1972)

Trouble of the World / Precious Lord / Just a Closer Walk with Thee

How I Got Over / Lord Don't Move the Mountain / Joshua Fit the Battle of Jericho

Somebody Touched Me / How Great Thou Art

How I Got Over (live)

               By Mahalia Jackson


How I got over
How did I make it over
You know my soul look back and wonder
How did I make it over

How I made it over
Going on over all these years
You know my soul look back and wonder
How did I make it over

Tell me how we got over Lord
Had a mighty hard time coming on over
You know my soul look back and wonder
How did we make it over

Tell me how we got over, Lord
I've been falling and rising all these years
But you know my soul look back and wonder
How did I make it over

But soon as I can see Jesus
The man that died for me
Man that bled and suffered
and he hung on Calvary

And I want to thank him for how he brought me
And I want to thank God for how he taught me
Oh thank my God how he kept me
I'm gonna thank him 'cause he never left me

Then I'm gonna thank God for 'ole time religion
and I'm gonna thank God for giving me vision
One day I'm gonna join the heavenly choir
I'm gonna sing and never get tired

And then I'm gonna sing somewhere 'round God's altar
And I'm gonna shout all my troubles over
You know I've gotta thank God and thank him for being
so good to me. Lord yeah

How I made it over 'LORD' I had to cry in the midnight hour
coming on over, but you know my soul look back and wonder
How did I make it over

Tell me how I made it over Lord God Lord
Falling and rising all these years
you know my soul look back and wonder
How did I make it over

I'm gonna wear a diamond garment
In that new Jerusalem, I'm gonna walk the streets of gold
It's in the homeland of the soul
I'm gonna view the host in white
They've been traveling day and night
Coming up from every nation
They're on their way to the great Cognation
Coming from the north, south, east, and west
They on their way to a land of rest
and their gonna join the heavenly choir
You know we're gonna sing and never get tired
and then we're gonna sing somewhere 'round God's altar
and then we're gonna shout all our troubles over
You know we gotta thank God and thank him for being
so good to me

You know I come to thank God, this evening, I come to
thank him, this evening, You know all night long
God kept his angels watching over me
and early this morning, early this morning
God told his angel God said, "touch her in my name"
God said, "touch her in my name"
I 'rose this morning, I 'rose this morning
I 'rose this morning, I feel like shouting
I feel like shouting, I feel like shouting
I feel like shouting, I feel like shouting
I feel like shouting, I feel like shouting
I just gotta thank God, I just gotta thank God
I just gotta thank God, I just gotta thank him
Thank God for being so good, God's been good to me

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Mahalia Jackson (October 26, 1911 – January 27, 1972) was an American gospel singer. Possessing a powerful contralto voice, she was referred to as "The Queen of Gospel." Jackson became one of the most influential gospel singers in the world and was heralded internationally as a singer and civil rights activist. She was described by entertainer Harry Belafonte as "the single most powerful black woman in the United States". She recorded about 30 albums (mostly for Columbia Records) during her career, and her 45 rpm records included a dozen "golds"—million-sellers.

Born as Mahala Jackson and nicknamed "Halie," Jackson grew up in the Black Pearl section of the Carrollton neighborhood of Uptown New Orleans, Louisiana. The three-room dwelling on Pitt Street housed thirteen people and a dog. . . . Mahalia's father, John A. Jackson, Sr. was a stevedore (dockworker) and a barber who later became a Baptist minister. He fathered four other children besides Mahalia—Wilmon (older) and then Yvonne, Pearl and Johnny, Jr. (by his marriage shortly after Halie's birth). Her father's sister, Jeanette Jackson-Burnett, and husband, Josie, were vaudeville entertainers.

When she was born Halie suffered from genu varum, or "bowed legs". The doctors wanted to perform surgery by breaking her legs, but one of the resident aunts opposed it. Halie's mother would rub her legs down with greasy dishwater. The condition never stopped young Halie from performing her dance steps for the white woman for whom her mother and Aunt Bell cleaned house.

Mahalia was five when her mother Charity died, leaving her family to decide who would raise Halie and her brother. Aunt Duke assumed this responsibility, and the children were forced to work from sunup to sundown. . . .Mahalia Jackson began her singing career at the local Mount Mariah Baptist Church. She was baptized in Mississippi by Mt. Mariah's pastor, the Rev. E. D. Lawrence, then went back to the church to "receive the right hand of fellowship."—Wikipedia

 *   *   *   *   *'s 25 Best Selling Books



#1 - Justify My Thug by Wahida Clark
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#3 - Head Bangers: An APF Sexcapade by Zane
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#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


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#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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Hands on the Freedom Plow

Personal Accounts by Women in SNCC

By Faith S. Holsaert, Martha Prescod Norman Noonan

Judy Richardson, Betty Garman Robinson, et al.

The book opens a window onto the organizing tradition of the Southern civil rights movement. That tradition, rooted in the courage and persistence of ordinary people, has been obscured by the characterization of the civil rights struggle as consisting primarily of protest marches. In rural Dawson, Ga., Carolyn Daniels housed SNCC workers organizing for voter registration, and whites retaliated by bombing her home. But at the end of a vivid depiction of this and other anti-black terrorist acts, she writes, in an apt summary of the grass-roots organizing that is the real explanation for civil rights victories, "We just kept going and going."

Organizing involved the kind of commitment and willingness to face risk that Penny Patch conveys in only a few short sentences describing covert nighttime meetings in plantation sharecropper shacks. Patch is white. But that did not lessen the fear or reduce the danger of remaining seated while poll watching in a country store as whites came in and out, giving her and her black co-worker menacing stares.

Full journalistic disclosure requires me to say that many of these women are friends and former comrades. But knowing the movement that we were all a part of also demands that I share my observation: While these pages look back, looking forward from them reveals that there are many useful lessons for today in the strength of these women.Charles E. Cobb Jr.

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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.”

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The Persistence of the Color Line

Racial Politics and the Obama Presidency

By Randall Kennedy

Among the best things about The Persistence of the Color Line is watching Mr. Kennedy hash through the positions about Mr. Obama staked out by black commentators on the left and right, from Stanley Crouch and Cornel West to Juan Williams and Tavis Smiley. He can be pointed. Noting the way Mr. Smiley consistently “voiced skepticism regarding whether blacks should back Obama” . . .

The finest chapter in The Persistence of the Color Line is so resonant, and so personal, it could nearly be the basis for a book of its own. That chapter is titled “Reverend Wright and My Father: Reflections on Blacks and Patriotism.”  Recalling some of the criticisms of America’s past made by Mr. Obama’s former pastor, Mr. Kennedy writes with feeling about his own father, who put each of his three of his children through Princeton but who “never forgave American society for its racist mistreatment of him and those whom he most loved.” 

His father distrusted the police, who had frequently called him “boy,” and rejected patriotism. Mr. Kennedy’s father “relished Muhammad Ali’s quip that the Vietcong had never called him ‘nigger.’ ” The author places his father, and Mr. Wright, in sympathetic historical light.

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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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update 24 May 2012




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Related files:  Mahalia Jackson   C L Franklin Review  Doubting Thomas  Sermonic Closings   Funeralizing Mahalia  Du Bois Negro Church  Three Views on Black Church 

The Spirituals and the Blues  I Have a Dream  The Black Religious Crisis   Howard Thurman