Sunday, February 25, 2018

james weldon johnson's words recited by john foster to celebrate black history month.

this morning, local orator john foster recited several poems from the 1927 book god's trombones by james weldon johnson at washington presbyterian church in the city of reading as a way to celebrate black history month. the poems are weldon johnson's own reworkings of bible verses. 

the author's creative approach with the lines has some rich, very relatable and imagery-driven scenery in it, especially the "pale, white horses" joining the allegory of death, the reality that literally none of us can avoid, even with our advanced and modern world of today. it brings to light the reminder of being human and thus ephemeral in a body. but how we take to the idea of going home is a turn in comfort that maybe can't be related to until majestic creatures arrive through the sound of clopping hooves, a sign of larger change, an energy-pressed transition.

and it helped to have john's memorized lines by weldon johnson paired with staged movements to match the visuals of the verses. see the performance at the link below, followed by a video of john's wife lily singing "were you there (when they crucified my lord)," which was said to have been first printed in 1899 and likely written by slaves in our country decades earlier.

the video of lily as well as photos are credited in great thanks to sam traten.

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