Folk Song Of The American Negro - Online Book

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Negroes enjoy being laughed at, but they are not found in the schools. The same students assume the attitude that the rest of the world concedes to the Negroes the ability to execute well their own music, but it is beyond them to understand and execute the classics, and any attempt to do this is presumpfious. To them, this is another form of circumscription which has been a hindrance and handicap* They cannot afford to recognize any limitation, except those which confine the abilities of the whole human race. Some look upon this music with disfavor, because they simply cannot do otherwise. They have been thoroughly overwhelmed by that powerful propaganda, which aims at impressing upon the Negro his nothingness, or at best his inferiority to other races. In their desperate effort to prove they are something, they fatuously struggle to abandon that self which the world deems inferior, and to become some other self. They re�pudiate everything which bears the stamp of race. It is cause for sincere congratulation to ourselves that this class is growing pro�portionally smaller as time passes. It will finally disappear.
To those of the second generation of freedmen who live in the South, these songs are a source of encouragement. They read their story with open minds and hearts. They tell the story of our fathers' agony, the cleansing fire into which they were cast. It tells how they emerged from the fires unharmed and without the smell of smoke upon their garments, how character was brightened and faith strengthened. It tells our fathers' sublime standard of spirituality, which their children must make their very own. When they read this story and comprehend its meaning, when they catch the vision of the past, joyfully cry, "Thanks be to God for our fathers!'' To be children of such forbears is a blessed inspiration; to be the heirs of such wealth of wisdom as our fathers' songs is in itself tran-scendant.
"Keep a-inching, Keep a-inching along,
Jesus will come bye and bye; Keep a-inching along like a poor inch, worm, Jesus will come bye and bye/'
"Goin' to bold out to the end, Goin' to bold out to the end; Let trials come as tbey will come, Goin' to bold out to the end."