It takes courage and resolve to know who you are and where you came from. The end result is freedom and pure joy for the soul, because it helps you discover your life’s purpose that serves others and yourself well. The American story is like a patchwork quilt. It is made up of different patterns, colors, and separate pieces of cloth. Carefully the separate pieces are sewn together to make a beautiful quilt, that will be passed down in families generation after generation. Like the quilt, our stories bind us together as people. Like the quilt it took every slave and every non-slave to build this great country we live in today. As an American I am deeply grateful to all our ancestors. Their courage and dedication is inspiring. Freedom is a gift they paid forward so that we all might live free one day.

The truth is, if we don’t know where we came from, how can we possibly know who we are and where we are going. For those of us, like myself whose ancestors were born in slavery in America, the African American spirituals hold within them the key to our African American cultural heritage and America’s oral history. Because the African people brought here to America as slaves were stripped of their language, stripped of their culture, stripped of their music, and stripped of their sacred drums and for even more control over the slaves, it was forbidden for the slaves to learn how to read and write. It is astounding the courage and determination the slaves had to make a way out of no way to create an entirely original music and a new culture resolute in safekeeping a message of hope for humanity. These humble beginnings have left a vibrant legacy that has permeated African American culture and music even today. In knowing who we are today we must know our roots. And to do that we must know more about the slaves in America which is hidden within their music. To begin that journey you must first understand the music they created in the cotton fields of the Old South. For the slaves first and foremost singing gave their souls a secret and safe way to speak to God out loud. Along with the connection to God they felt while singing, the spirituals became a tool for the slaves to heal their pain, record their history, teach their young and encouraged them to stay focused on freedom, because one day they knew it would belong to them. And amazingly they kept this deep commitment to freedom, hidden in plain view for centuries. Obviously their lives depended on it.

And so it is, the humble open hearts of the slaves gave birth to an original American music we call spirituals. In 2007 the United State Congress would pass historic twin resolutions recognizing the African American Spiritual as an American National Treasure and honoring the slaves for their gifts to our nation with our deepest gratitude and respect. It’s time we believe in the possibilities life has to offer and go for our dreams to fulfill our nations promise: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

The question is what will we pay forward to our children and great grandchildren? I’d love to hear your comments. Thank you so much for listening to my story and my music. I appreciate your business.

For programing, music and for more information on the history of the spirituals visit:

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