Civil Rights March
…l’ouverture / Dessalines on horseback /
You will ride back thru here / invoke those
Same spirits you called on at the citadel /
There are half-naked women sleeping at
Your fee / children begging under yr
Bridled stallions / what 3 horses would
Balk at / one black man carries on his
Back / his sweat falls into the streams of
Where are you now
Haiti’s in need….
Ntozake Shange, A Daughter’s Geography, 34
As for the gift of the spirit, never before in the history of the United States did a movement of such spiritual force confront the moral contradictions of the white world than did the Civil Rights movement. Singing through that struggle with its beating and bombings, clapping and dancing to a God who would deliver the people from the “Pharaohs” of this land, the spirit of black people revealed, and some would say redeemed, the diseased soul of a nation. That eruption of spirit was not the genius of a charismatic minister named Martin Luther King, Jr. He was only one voice that remembered with his people the moral resistance they’d continued from Africa to plantation cabins, from farm shacks to storefront churches.
It would be hard to name popular music forms that remain separate from or unaffected by this spirit. Negro spiritual inspired blues, jazz, rock n’ roll, much of folk music, and currently, rap.