Black Song: The Forge And The Flame

This book delves into the story of how Afro-American spiritual was hammered out. Author John Lovell, Jr. goes into great detail of how the African influence catapulted American folklore, and the origin of American popular music.  It also takes into consideration the diverse ethnic groups that came to the Americas and Caribbean from the African continent, also how that influenced African American music.

If a folk song ever grew to epic stature, it is the American Negro spiritual. The thousands of Black creators and irrepressible groups who picked up the songs and kept them alive and moving were certainly perpetually busy. They were spread all over the slave land for hundreds of years. The few thousands songs extent are thus hardly more than a tiny fraction of the total output.

http://sincereignorance.com/2014/10/11/a-history-of-african-american-music/

RACE The Power of an Illusion Episode 1

The History of Major Slave Revolts; Americas and the Caribbean

The exact statistics of how many slave rebellions and revolts that took place are unknown, but historical records show there were many. American Negro Slave Revolts, by Herbert Aptheker concluded that there were at least 250 slave revolts within the United States alone prior to the year 1865, in addition to localized opposition. On record was also mutiny aboard slave ships, 155 on record; many success stories and many brutally suppressed mutinies.

According to African American Desk Reference, as early as 1522, slaves in Saint Domingue rose up in an attempt to create a African Republic; rebellious slaves destroyed the settlement of Santa Maria in Columbia.

Here are more recorded revolts.

1653 In Gloucester Virginia, a plot was betrayed by a man named Berkenhead (A White indentured servant); he was rewarded his freedom and 5,000 pounds of tobacco.

1658 Black slaves aided by Native Americans burned their masters’ homes in Hartford Connecticut.

1691 Mingoe, a Virginia slave escaped from his master; Mingoe gathered a group of followers and destroyed a number of plantations, mainly in Rappahannock County. The rebels acquired cattle, hogs and some guns. Sadly there wasn’t any documented account about their fate.

Discrimination against free blacks was more severe in Connecticut than in other New England colonies. Their lives were strongly proscribed even before they became numerous. In 1690, the colony forbade blacks and Indians to be on the streets after 9 p.m. It also forbid black “servants” to wander beyond the limits of the towns or places where they belonged without a ticket or pass from their masters or the authorities. A law of 1708, citing frequent fights between slaves and whites, imposed a minimum penalty of 30 lashes on any black who disturbed the peace or who attempted to strike a white person. Even speech was subject to control. By a 1730 law, and black, Indian, or mulatto slave “who uttered or published, about any white person, words which would be actionable if uttered by a free white was, upon conviction before any one assistant or justice of the peace, to be whipped with forty lashes.”

http://slavenorth.com/connecticut.htm

For more slave rebellions and revolts, go to Schomberg Center for research in Black culture; African American Desk Reference. 

International Decade for People of African Descent

TRNN was in Harlem this week to cover the commencement of the UN ‘International Decade for People of African Descent.’ Activist Opal Tometi, Actor Danny Glover and President of Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro were among those who spoke. They encouraged Black activists to build solidarity with the over 200 million people who claim African descent in the Americas.

To watch the entire story click here: http://bit.ly/1j1aj54

http://www.un.org/en/events/africandescentdecade/

Onesimus: Smallpox Inoculation

smallpox

Thanks to the pioneering work of Onesimus, many lives were saved from the smallpox epidemic.

Onesimus (fl. 1706 – 1717), slave and medical pioneer, was born in the late seventeenth century, probably in West Africa, although the precise date and place of his birth are unknown. He first appears in the historical record in the diary of Cotton Mather, a prominent New England theologian and minister of Boston’s Old North Church. Reverend Mather notes in a diary entry for 13 December 1706 that members of his congregation purchased for him “a very likely Slave; a young Man who is a Negro of a promising aspect of temper” (Mather, vol. 1, 579). Mather named him Onesimus, after a biblical slave who escaped from his master, an early Christian named Philemon.

http://hutchinscenter.fas.harvard.edu/onesimus-fl-1706-1717-slave-and-medical-pioneer-was-born

The idea behind this radical new treatment came from Africa, specifically from a slave named Onesimus, who shared his knowledge with Cotton Mather, the town’s leading minister and his legal owner. Boston still suffered dreadfully, but thanks to Onesimus and Mather, the terror linked to smallpox began to recede after Africans rolled up their sleeves—literally—to show Boston how inoculation worked.

https://www.bostonglobe.com/ideas/2014/10/17/how-african-slave-helped-boston-fight-smallpox/XFhsMMvTGCeV62YP0XhhZI/story.html

http://www.sciencemuseum.org.uk/broughttolife/people/onesimus

http://www.jstor.org/stable/3491675?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents

http://www.blackhistorypages.net/pages/onesimus.php

Leadership Roles in the Black Community

Strong Leaders

The Missing Piece of Film History

film thumbnail

http://sincereignorance.com/2015/02/11/oscar-micheaux-film-industry-more/

Confederate Flag Controversy

Check out our Youtube Channel for video content. We’re trying to expand and would love your support!

Crossroads: A Story Inspired By Robert Johnson

https://i1.wp.com/image.tmdb.org/t/p/original/yz4Pc1FTiZNs8z1EhNZqocVJho7.jpg

I held my guitar, strumming the strings to hear its cool twang echo bounce through the forest as I stepped up the moonlit dirt road. I thought I was pretty good. Some said I had talent, but I was never talented enough to step on stage.

But that was about to change. I reached an intersection, where four worn roads came together. By this time, the forest was behind me and there was nothing but miles of sweeping Mississippi farmland coating the earth. The distant, pained howl of a hound lingered in the night air for a second before fading into silence.

A man stood in the center of the crossroads, dressed in a sharp gray suit with a fedora tipped sideways atop his head. The look in his dreary blue eyes sent a whirlwind of doubt ripping though my subconscious. I stopped within six feet of him; a lump filled my throat.

“I believe you know how this works, right?” he asked, his voice as pale as his skin.

I nodded and swallowed my uncertainty. I stepped closer to present my guitar to him.

His eyes widened. “I suppose not. We’ve changed policy, dear.”

Before I could raise an eyebrow, he slipped a hand into his jacket, pulled out a sleek pen and a sheet of paper— offering it to me. I placed my guitar on the ground, next to his briefcase, and took the instrument.

“Sign the dotted line, please,” he said.

The paper was strong enough to write on without need for a clipboard and it was glazed with legal jargon. Some words I couldn’t even pronounce, let alone understand.

“Midnight doesn’t last forever,” he said after a few minutes.

Fearless of sin, I scribbled my name in pen. The signature glowed a bright blue, but the ink started to sizzle and smolder to a coal black. There was a blank section below the signature line which filled itself in with words that formed my biography. Before I could speak, the man snatched the paper back and scanned it.

He arched an eyebrow. “Keisha Williams? Born in New Orleans, sixteen-years-old, and second daughter of James and Angela Williams?”

I nodded.

He bit his lip. “I see, and what do you plan to do when you’re a rich and famous musician?”

I paused for a second. “Charity,” I admitted.

A thin mocking smirk played on his lips. “For the hurricane, I assume.”

“Yes.”

He tore the paper to pieces and blew them into the humid air. Like fireflies, the pieces lit up the night sky before fading into darkness.

The man then reached into the breast-pocket of his jacket, taking out a red pack of cigarettes and a pack of matches. He shook a thin single out and plopped it between his lips. “Please don’t try to undo our work, Ms. Williams. You have a good evening.”

He struck a match and a bright flash nearly blinded me; my eyes slammed shut. The flames crackled like witches. When my eyes flicked open, he was gone. The dirt beneath me was covered in dark soot.

My guitar sat next to my sneakers as a pile of black ash. Left were the twisted metal strings protruding from the instrument’s charred remains.

Law school it is, then.

————————————–

Robert Johnson was the inspiration for this story. I felt it could’ve went in a better direction, but I see these shorts I’m posting as literary exercise than anything else. Decent to be written in a day I’d hope.

https://i0.wp.com/www.sacurrent.com/imager/king-of-the-delta-blues-robert-johnson/b/original/2401841/9337/cityguide48-1.jpg

Robert Johnson was a 30’s blue musician, passing away at the age of 27 and joining the legendary 27 Club (with Kurt Cobain and Jimi Hendrix), Johnson left a huge dent in music despite his short tenure in blues. In the 60’s his re-released works grew immensely popular and went on to inspire many white and black powerhouse artists of the day.

It’s always been according to legend that Johnson made a deal with the Devil to play the guitar the way he did. That, coupled with the fact little is known about Johnson’s life besides his music career and his early demise, and you have yourself the music blues legend.

Things like this “alleged footage” increase the spookiness factor.

The idea of the crossroads has always interested me. Standing alone by yourself, making a choice in which direction to go. Or hoping to meet something of supernatural origin to strike a deal that you’d soon regret.

Check out some of Johnson’s music:

Sources:

http://www.robertjohnsonbluesfoundation.org/biography

http://www.biography.com/people/robert-johnson-9356324

https://i0.wp.com/fc03.deviantart.net/fs45/i/2009/124/6/f/Robert_Johnson_by_jugodenaranjo.jpg

Africans and The Making of the Americas: Part 4, Agriculture

There was a desperate need for African agricultural skills in the Americas.

Diverse groups of Africans from the coastal regions were highly skilled at clearing and cultivating forest land, an expertise that was unknown to Europeans at the time. One African technique involved burning delineated sections of forest and later using the ash for fertilizer, this had to be done carefully. Many also knew how to raise crops in semi-tropical and tropical soils; high temperatures and heavy rains cause nutrients to seep out more quickly than they do in temperate climates.

The complex art of rice cultivation practiced by West Africans for centuries rescued the U.S. The technique and technology used for rice cultivation was unknown by Europeans outside of southern Italy at the time. Rice cultivation was one of the most difficult types of work one could do, working in knee-deep water every day. By 1750, South Carolina became the rice-growing center of North America; rice was the colony’s major export. Other crops introduce by Africans include, black-eyed peas, pumpkins, sesame seeds, kola nuts, cotton, yams, sorghum, muskmelon, and water-melon.

The agricultural skills of Africans and African-Americans garnered extraordinary wealth for the Americas and Europe.

List of Crops Introduced by Africans/African-Americans

black-eyed peas

pumpkins

sesame seeds

kola nuts

cotton

yams

sorghum

muskmelon

water-melon

okra

tania

kidney beans

lima beans

millet

red peas

Source:

http://www.nypl.org/locations/schomburg

http://slaverebellion.org/index.php?page=crops-slave-cuisines

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2014/03/140301-african-american-food-history-slavery-south-cuisine-chefs/

 Part 1: http://sincereignorance.com/2015/01/27/africans-and-the-making-of-the-americas-part-1-exploration/

Part 2: http://sincereignorance.com/2015/01/27/africans-and-the-making-of-the-americas-part-2-mining/

Part 3: http://sincereignorance.com/2015/02/03/africans-and-the-making-of-the-americas-part-3-herding/

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