A collective cry of the souls of black folk

This book is a literary collection of one man’s reflections on living while black in America.

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This week’s column is an excerpt from John Fountain’s latest book, “Soul Cries”

This book is my story — my song. A tribute, especially to the memories of murdered black children whose premature autopsies have created a familiar sad song to which we have become too accustomed.

“Soul Cries,” in one sense, is an urban opera set in the key of life. One that sings of the ancestral past, of the present and of future struggles, of the triumphs and glories of a people but also of our fears, of the strain, drain and consequence upon our souls.

It is an inspirational song — a story — that emanates from a place where the voices of those who dwell there often are not heard. At its best, this is perhaps a collective cry of the souls of black folk.

One that ranges in scope from a poetic essay that juxtaposes southern lynchings against the new “strange fruit” of black bloodies lying lifeless in Chicago streets — a toll of mostly young black men murdered in Chicago. To the triumph, glory, joys and even the splendor of black life that blare like the melancholy wail of Miles Davis’ trumpet against a peach-colored sun slowly setting on a summer horizon.

This book is a West Side story. One birthed in my joys and sorrows of growing up on the other side of the tracks.

One nursed in a decades-long career of capturing as journalistic scribe and also native son the humanity and countless tragedies that too often are reduced to sound bites and briefs upon the daily American news platter.

Those tragedies, whether in the form of poverty or socioeconomic and educational deprivation and mis-education, homicide, or the systemic racial hate and discrimination that have sought to disembowel the black body from the black soul, are at the heart of my soul’s cry.

Mine is a cry filled with anguish but also hope. With tears but also joy.

With disdain over the insidious and sinister circumstance and systems that have created this great chasm between “us” and “them” and that leaves my soul sometimes drifting on a bittersweet wind, though compelling me to leave record of my soul’s cry behind.

This book is my best effort of composing a collective soul’s cry— ignited by my own words to others over the critical import of telling our own stories, words not lost on this messenger. So let me now declare:

We must tell our own stories. Let our voices resound. Let them ring from the depths of our souls. Wet with the tears of our ancestors. That it may fertilize the ground. For present generations. And for generations to come.

Let the stories of our collective tears, triumphs and also sufferings be the Golden Sun. That shall be the warmth of other daughters and sons. And let not our dreams of writing be deferred to fester and run.

Tell the story. Of Black Love. Of Black Romance. Of pure burning Black Passion. And old-school yearning. Of Black slow dancing.

Of Black Kisses. And infinite Black Bliss. Of Black Christmases. And Black hopes. Black dreams and Black wishes …

Put simply, this book is a literary collection of one man’s reflections on living while black in America. A psalm of the afflictions endured by the black body, and of the resilience of black folks’ souls — that are still tormented at this present time — even on this the quadricentennial of our arrival as slaves upon American shores ...

It is, at its core, one black man’s soul cry for freedom.

A familiar song, sung by our ancestors andlongingly ringing with the chorus, “Deep in my heart, I do believe, we shall overcome someday.”

This is my soul’s cry.

Email: Author@johnwfountain.com

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