As a storyteller, and an American, our history as a nation matters. “We The People” should pride ourselves on our diversity and recognize that our strength as a nation stems from choosing to come together on our moral values as a nation for the common good of all of us. For me understanding the vital unacknowledged role the spirituals played in our history is not only fascinating but also a compass in reflecting our humanity in real time, which is a big part of how we overcame major moral hurdles in American history.
America, “The Great American Experiment” began as a fledgling country in search of its soul by ruling itself as a democracy. For the first time in world history, a country would choose a governing leadership that would be comprised of individuals coming together as equals to form a government for, of and by the people to collectively be responsible for defining and governing our destiny as a country. Some of these ideals have yet to be fulfilled, and in order to accomplish this we must be the change. We must not settle for stagnation or apathy as the acceptable norm, instead we must choose hope and a willingness to create solutions to end poverty, racism and injustice for the good of our children and our nation.
It is my greatest honor to teach and share what I have learned in my studies about our history and the vital role of the African American spirituals. I also share the oral history I learned from my Elders as a young boy in the cotton fields, and the back wood country churches in my home state of North Carolina where my family and many in our community worked and lived as sharecroppers.
In my one-man show I also tell the stories of our slave ancestors embedding their oral history into the spirituals for safekeeping. I sing their secret and sacred songs. I shed light on the secret coding hidden within the songs to help runaway slaves find safe routes on the Underground Railroad. We will also explore the vibrational sound waves within the music. The African American spirituals rhythmic sound, like ancient mantras were used as a form of concentration to put you on a path away from the pain and suffering you are experiencing on your human journey to reconnect with the love and security within your soul. A spiritual is more than music it is a personal experience and journey for every person listening or singing it.