If You Don't Go, Don't Hinder Me: The African American Sacred Song Tradition
"If you don't go, don't hinder me. I am leaving this place. I would like company. If I have to travel alone, don't get in my way".
How do you survive leaving everything you know to try to reconstruct your life and future in a new way? What do you carry with you on your journey to the new place?
Migration as a theme looms large in twentieth-century African American life. Bernice Johnson Reagon uses this theme as a centering structure for four essays that examine different genres of African American sacred music as they manifested themselves throughout the twentieth century and within her own personal life. The first essay examines the evolution of gospel music by looking at the work of Charles Albert Tindley, Thomas Andrew Dorsey, Reverend Smallwood Williams, Roberta Martin, Pearl William Jones, and Richard Smallwood. In the next essay Reagon relates the story of Deacon William Reardon and the prayer bands that carried the tradition of South Carolina spirituals through the twentieth century in the communities of Washington, D.C., and Baltimore. The concert spiritual tradition is the subject of the third essay, and the final essay explores how stories about African American women of the nineteenth century became a source of strength for Reagon in her development as an African American woman, singer, fighter, and scholar.
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