My Soul Is A Witness

Overview

My Soul Is a Witness is a powerful collection of poetry, prose, reflections, prayer, and song celebrating spirituality in the lives of African-American women. Featuring a variety of voices including Johnetta B. Cole, Marsye Conde, Rita Dove, Nikki Giovanni, Akasha (Gloria) Hull, Toni Morrison, Iyanla Vanzant, and Alice Walker, this collection demonstrates the diverse ways that women connect with the Spirit. Exploring faiths ranging from Islam to Buddhism to Christianity, these writings illustrate the importance ...

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Overview

My Soul Is a Witness is a powerful collection of poetry, prose, reflections, prayer, and song celebrating spirituality in the lives of African-American women. Featuring a variety of voices including Johnetta B. Cole, Marsye Conde, Rita Dove, Nikki Giovanni, Akasha (Gloria) Hull, Toni Morrison, Iyanla Vanzant, and Alice Walker, this collection demonstrates the diverse ways that women connect with the Spirit. Exploring faiths ranging from Islam to Buddhism to Christianity, these writings illustrate the importance of religion and spirituality in the women of the African-American community. No matter how the Spirit expresses itself in these women's lives, their faith is experienced not just as individuals but also as an inheritance from the women in their community. This anthology will surely touch every sister of the Spirit.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
My Soul Is a Witness is an authentic call to days, rituals and strengths of old. Strengths we still have. Spirituality we need to rely upon. —Sandra West, The Savannah Tribune

"[A] beautifully rendered anthology." —Library Journal

"A wonderful book. . . . Nowhere will you find a more comprehensive work on spirituality of African-American women." —Toni Campbell, Real African World Magazine

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The writings that make up this anthology are uneven in quality and message. The book includes every form of written expression from hymns to academic work. Some, like Sojourner Truth's ``Address to the Ohio Women's Rights Convention,'' are classics. Some, like Taha's ``The Sacred Journey: The Gift of the Hajj,'' will likely become classics. And, others, like Goboldte's essay on the Imani Faith Temple, are academic pedestrians that ``seek to contextualize.'' The book is directed to African American women, but, despite the unevenness and the cultural markers, the anthology also harbors a spirituality that is universal rather than sex or race limited. Nikki Giovanni's ``Let the Church Say Amen'' directly offers this richness when she writes that she has the same message for any audience ``because I know my grandmother, and her Bridge-Flower-Book club friends are always there.'' (Aug.)
Sacred Fire
My Soul Is a Witness is a wonderful collection that speaks to the importance of religion and spirituality in the lives of African American women. Wade-Gayles frames the evolution of African American religion by showing the historical and contemporary ways that black women have expressed their spiritual beliefs. It is this powerful connection to the spiritual that has guided and protected black people, both individually and communally, through the most difficult of times.

Employing essays, poetry, and excerpts from works by various authors, the opening section, "Boarding the Old Ship of Zion: Witnessing for Our Mothers' Faith," sets the tone of this soul- satisfying anthology. Maya Angelou's "Our Grandmothers," Mari Evans's "The Elders," and Rita Dove's "Gospel" are poignant poems that help lay the foundation for our many manifestations of faith.

In "Testifying: The Spiritual Anchor in African American Culture," Wade-Gayles brings together, among others, the voices of Toni Morrison (an excerpt from Beloved), Carolyn M. Rodgers ("how I got ovah IT/It Is Deep"), and an essay ("Sing Oh Barren One") from Bernice Reagon Johnson of Sweet Honey in the Rock. The unifying theme is the various ways that women have responded to a call from the Spirit.

Wade-Gayles explores every stone, every aspect of African American culture to show where and how spirit manifests. Margo V. Perkins's "The Church of Aretha" offers Aretha Franklin's ability to suffuse her melodies with the power of spirit as testimony to spirit in our everyday lives. The anthology also foliows the evolution of African American spiritual expression: "Challenging Traditions" speaks of a woman's self-discovery and empowerment; "Praying at Different Altars" reveals manifestations of Spirit in the Catholic, Islamic, and Yoruba religions. "The Healing Power of Affirmations and Rituals" introduces a newer, more modernistic approach to spirit. lyanla Vanzant, Susan Taylor, Marita Golden, and bell hooks offer deeply insightful prescriptives.

The Women's Review of Books called Witness "a jewel which belongs in libraries, churches, classrooms and homes of women and men of all colors, cultures and religions." Let the church say ... Amen.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780807009239
  • Publisher: Beacon
  • Publication date: 5/30/2002
  • Pages: 388
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Gloria Wade-Gayles holds the Eminent Scholar's Chair at Spelman College and is a CASE master teacher for the state of Georgia. She is author of Rooted against the Wind: Personal Essays and No Crystal Stair: Visions of Race and Gender in Black Women's Fiction and editor of In Praise of Our Teachers, among others. She currently resides in Atlanta.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Introduction 1
Pt. 1 Boarding "The Old Ship of Zion": Witnessing for Our Mothers' Faith 9
Our Grandmothers 13
Southern Women 18
Surviving the Blight 19
Hattie on the Block 27
The Elders 30
"Will the Circle Be Unbroken": African-American Women's Spirituality in Sacred Song Traditions 32
"In the Morning, When I Rise": My Hands in Spiritual Soil 48
"Mary Don't You Weep": Becoming My Mother's Son 56
The Power 60
The Spirit Keeps the Memory of the Ancestors Alive 65
The "Finny-Finny" Rain: Three Women's Spiritual Bonding on Sapelo Island 71
A City Called Heaven 85
Life-Making: The Spirituality of Ella Jo Baker 87
Gospel 93
Pt. 2 Testifying: The Spiritual Anchor in African-American Culture 95
how i got ovah II/It is Deep II 99
From Gifts of Power 101
From Beloved 102
Revelation by Grace 102
Spirit Never Fails 109
Ms. Sarah's Recipes, or, I Am the Butter 119
The Church of Aretha 128
Defying Alzheimer's: Saving Her Spirit in Song 131
"Sing Oh Barren One" 137
Pt. 3 Challenging Traditions: A New Baptism in the Spirit 145
Address to the Ohio Women's Rights Convention 149
Jesus Is a Sister 150
From The Color Purple (God Is Inside You and Inside Everybody Else) 156
Exploring New Spaces: A Dialogue with Black Women on Religion, Culture, and Spirituality 161
the hall 178
In Praise of Praying Women 179
Let the Church Say Amen 180
sunday morning ritual 185
Sources of Black Female Spirituality: The Ways of "the Old Folks" and Women Writers 187
On Discovering Self and Empowerment in Black Women's Literature 192
sisters 201
Nature/loved black woman/child 202
Faithful Resistance Risking It All: From Expedience to Radical Obedience 204
On Going Home 209
Call 215
Pt. 4 Praying at Different Altars, Singing Different Songs: African-American Women across Denominations and Faiths 219
Walking in Eight Directions on One Path 221
Spirituality, Sexuality, and Creativity: A Conversation with Margaret Walker-Alexander 224
DreadPath/LockSpirit 229
A Good Catholic Woman: Reflections on Conflict and Continuity in the Nineties 234
Laying on Hands: Women in Imani Faith Temple 241
On Belonging as a Muslim Woman 253
The Sacred Journey: The Gift of Hajj 266
From the House of Yemanja: The Goddess Heritage of Black Women 272
She Who Whispers 279
Homegrown Juju Dolls: An Interview with Artist Riua Akinshegun 286
at karnak temple 291
Pt. 5 Invoking the Spirit: The Healing Power of Affirmations and Rituals 293
From I, Tituba 295
From The Salt Eaters 299
Be Healed: A Black Woman's Sermon on Healing through Touch 305
Healing from Afar with Your Mind 314
A Womanist Litany 318
Litany for the Blessing of a House 321
Ritual to Invoke the Goddess Isis 325
Guardian Spirits 332
Your Inner Voice 335
The Power of Affirmations 338
From Sisters of the Yam (Walking in the Spirit) 341
Epilogue: Remembering Roseann Pope Bell 347
Contributors 351
Credits 361
Index 363
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