Beyond the Blues: New Poems by American Negroes

Beyond the Blues: New Poems by American Negroes

Beyond the Blues: New Poems by American Negroes

Beyond the Blues: New Poems by American Negroes

Excerpt

In the spring of 1960, at a large Negro College in Alabama, a student of basketball stature came to talk to me after a very early morning Chapel during which I had read poetry by American Negroes. He had to stoop to shake hands with me. I saw that his eyes were moist and he said: '. . . the scales fell from my eyes this morning . . . but . . . if you were a Negro and you were in a white audience when this kind of poetry was read . . . how would you feel?' 'Proud, fellow,' I replied, 'I'd feel damn proud.' 'I guess you're right,' he said, 'but that'll take some getting used to'.

In the course of our discussion, which then followed, I quoted to my young Alabama friend something the great Frederick Douglass (1817-1895), ex-slave, educator, newspaper editor and finally Minister to Haiti, wrote about the Negro Spirituals: 'I did not, when a slave, understand the deep meanings of those rude and apparently incoherent songs. I was myself within the circle, so that I neither saw nor heard as those without might see and hear.'

Then and there the idea for the present book was born. I am perhaps using Douglass's words now as a justification for the fact that BEYOND THE BLUES is presented by a 'Caucasian' from Holland at a time when the United States is about to commemorate January 1st, 1863, the day when the Emancipation from Slavery was proclaimed and the first freed men sang:

Slavery chain done broke at last,
Gonna praise God till I die
.

Songs were sung all through the years of slavery; not because kidnapped and transplanted forced labourers were happy, but for the same reason that made some other man, at another period of human history, say: 'Canta che ti passa'--sing, and it will pass--with song, it will be easier to bear. Negro Spirituals, whether they are purely religious or songs in the code of 'Freedom Rides' on Harriet Tubman's 'Underground Railway', are deeply rooted in . . .

Author Advanced search

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.