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ON MY JOURNEY NOW by Nikki Giovanni

ON MY JOURNEY NOW

Looking at African-American History Through the Spirituals

By Nikki Giovanni

Age Range: 11 & up

Pub Date: Feb. 13th, 2007
ISBN: 0-7636-2885-9
Publisher: Candlewick

Giovanni’s slim, personal exploration of the historical underpinnings of the spirituals presents a unique perspective on a topic rarely examined in young-adult literature. Quoting liberally from 47 songs, Giovanni focuses on the triumph over extreme adversity inherent in both the lyrics and the African-American experience itself. She frequently supplants the noun “slaves” with “the enslaved,” honoring the intact humanity of the uprooted Africans. Focusing on the dignity of work and the unity and communication achieved through song, Giovanni ponders both daily and psychic life under and after slavery, in chapters such as “Escape,” “Sunday,” and “The Fisk Jubilee Singers.” She adopts a conversational, free-associative style that should engage teens jaded by dry textbook prose. She opines plenty, too, defending hip-hop, railing against the religious right’s usurpation of the Bible and maintaining that America’s longstanding grudge against Haiti dates from its role as a haven for slaves escaping the Deep South. Contrasting with the expressive narrative, appended information attests to Giovanni’s scholarly chops. An important work to handsell, booktalk and embrace. (foreword, lyrics, biographical notes, bibliography/source notes, recommended recordings, indexes) (Nonfiction. 11+)