Roxane Beth Johnson’s Black Crow Dress

Johnson, Roxane Beth. Black Crow Dress. Farmington, ME: Alice James Books, 2013.

A collection of lyrically intense persona poems about the emancipation of slaves in their myriad voices as well as a meditation on the self. The collection’s imagery takes the reader from churchyard to church, chanting the old spirituals, as Johnson seeks to embody the spirits of the dead. (Publisher’s abstract, abridged)

The Orphan Girls (1856) by James S. Peacocke and his use of spirituals

orphan-girlAnderson, Hilton. “Some Negro Slave Songs from an 1856 Novel.” Mississippi Folklore Register 8, no. 3 (1974): 221–26.

The popular novel The Orphan Girls (1856), by James S. Peacocke, is the story of a Louisiana plantation owner’s two daughters who are almost sold at a slave auction before being rescued at the last minute. The novel contains many references to spirituals, and since the novel predates many collections of spirituals, it is an important source for spirituals in the Mississippi and Louisiana area. Anderson has attempted to locate other versions of the songs wherever possible.

W. E. B. DU BOIS and Spirituals

MTE5NTU2MzE2MjA2MDQwNTg3Scholar and activist W.E.B. Du Bois was born on February 23, 1868, in Great Barrington, Massachusetts. In 1895, he became the first African-American to earn a Ph.D. from Harvard University. Du Bois wrote extensively and was the best known spokesperson for African-American rights during the first half of the 20th century. He co-founded the NAACP.

Below is a short bibliography of writings related to Du Bois and spirituals.

Brooks, Christopher A. “The ‘Musical’ Souls of Black Folk: Can a Double Consciousness Be Heard?” InThe Souls of Black Folk One Hundred Years Later,edited by Dolan Hubbard, 269–83. Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 2003.

Examines Du Bois’s use of spirituals in The Souls of Black Folk (1903). A study of Du Bois’s life makes clear that he moved with apparent ease through two worlds—black and white, a Continue reading