Preacher, activist, author, and also bluesman Rev. Sekou’s powerful new album, In Times like These, special Luther and also Cody Dickinson, is out on might 5, 2017. Listen to the album below, and also read an essay by Rev. Sekou.

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I mental the very first time that ns heard the word, nigger. It was a beautiful fall day in the Delta. The skies was a glowing blue and also leaves to be auburn. It to be not as well cold—just a slight chill. Mine grandmother, Mama, referred to as it “jacket weather.” our temperamental washing machine had take away it critical spin.

We resided in the distance away native the wares, and also tears, the the contemporary world. While mine childhood was isolated, the soon lost its innocence.

The nearest to wash mat was positioned at the edge of a trailer park. As we made our method in, I saw a twenty-something young woman with a child around my age, six. He had a firetruck and I had lugged with me favorite hot Wheels car. Ns was excited and also so was he. “Mommy, Mommy, look at the niggers. Look at the niggers,” the proclaimed.

I had actually never heard words before, yet I knew the was not a great one based upon the furious look on Mama’s face. I started to cry. “Hush up, boy,” she commanded. “You gotta call the truth and shame the devil. Ns didn’t let them operation over me once they to be lynching us and also I ain’t gone start now.”

“You know how youngsters are,” the mommy feigned.

“No,” Mama declared without increasing her voice, yet visibly fuming. “Children execute what they are taught.” She was looking the woman square in the eye. “You taught him that.”

The little boy and also I never said a native to every other. Because that the remainder of the afternoon, us played approximately but not v one another.

Late in the midnight hour, Mama often prayed end me. “Lord, this is a mean ole world. Don’t let the hate. Let him return love because that hate. Satan, ns rebuke you. In the mighty name of Jesus.”

As a child, I thought God lived over our kitchen sink since that is whereby she talked to the the most. We constantly listened to the radio in the morning—“I got to see what white folks was doing while i was ’sleep,” Mama would say—and after hearing regrettably news, her hands covered soap suds, she would certainly look increase yonder and call God into account. “You claimed in her word that the prayers of the righteous availeth much. I require you to protect this young from the trouble that is wait on him.”

Long prior to I come along, mine grandmother was chasing the devil back to Hell. In ~ 4"11"", she had stared down a lynch mob through the pistol the she was known to keep in she purse. They pertained to our family home come fetch her first-born son, who had gotten into a fight through the child of a rich land owner. After a few shots in their direction, lock knew she was no playing and also left with good haste. She was good for that—challenging the powerful yet respecting the powerless.

Mama teach me come read when I was 4 years old. It to be my job to review the letter for miss out on Roberta, who can not read however carried a wisdom that i am yet to adequately conceive of. She dipped snuff, walked through a cane, and was undoubtedly royalty, and she love me. Zent, Arkansas, to be a kingdom that dignity. Folks like miss Roberta tore turn off the ideal pieces of themselves and also sowed it right into a quilt that shields me come this day. If the was no for that covering, i would have long to be consumed through rage.

Zent to be an eleven-house hamlet nestled in the countryside Arkansas Delta. The thirty-five people who stayed in a time now forgotten were a blues people, who loved Jesus; the men in particular were offered to Jack Daniels. Their bodies bore the type of scares the made Robert Johnson offer his soul just to play guitar. After ~ a mainly of working from can’t-see-morning to can’t-see-night, they constantly had an ext week 보다 money. When the eagle flew top top Friday, they paid what bills they could. My grandfather, Richard Braselman, would move the former yard. Mama dubbed him Daddy. A previous chitlin’ circuit sideman because that Louis Jordan, daddy would press the slightly the end of track piano out onto the former porch for the continuous Saturday night fish fry. They would certainly dance, reduced up, and curse far the troubles of mainly if not the world. The blues was their balm.

Somewhere between a difficult lash and a longing because that home, the blues was born. The blues provide life by telling the truth about the darkness, however they never let the darkness have the critical word. The tension between hope and also hopelessness makes for flats and chords in minor keys; dissonance—two notes so close yet so different—is where the harmony is found. Joy and tragedy are not in opposition; they just coexist, ~ above a dusty dance floor. Choose the Spirituals, blues is the ingredient that confidence is do of—staring in ~ the sheer ugliness of life in face and also making beauty beauty of nothingness. That point that permits a sold-away slave to lament, “Sometimes i feel choose a motherless child,” and also in the following verse celebrate, “Glory Hallelujah.”

Or Daddy, drunk in ~ the piano, singing, “I been down so lengthy that the blues don’t get me down.” The blues was additionally correction and also compassion.

The day at the laundry mat wore on, Mama pack up and we prepared to leave. As we top to the door, we heard a whimper. The mrs was crying and also her little boy was trying to console her. As far as I can tell, the woman had run out of coins because that the machine. Mama turned around, walked end to her, and, never ever saying a word, offered the woman 2 rolls of quarters and unopened crate of washing powders. In the parking lot, Mama looked in ~ me and also admonished, “Boy, friend speak truth with grace.”

“Yes, ma’am,” ns obliged.

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We got in the car and she rotate on WDIA. Louis Jordan’s “Saturday Night Fish Fry” was on the radio. Mama smiled and so walk I.