acknowl edgments
On a fateful November day in 1995, my grand father stood up to lead the
St. Paul Pentecostal Church’s congregation in a song titled Running for
My Life.” The song, like other spirituals, contains interrelated meanings
regarding hope, grace, and the opportunity to truly live even after death.
I imagine that for my grand father, it also spoke directly to his unwaver-
ing Christian faith as well as to the idea of escaping to an elsewhere—an
other wise existence. He sang, in part:
I’m running for my life, I’m running for my life.
I’m running for my life, I’m running for my life.
If anybody asks you, what’s the matter with me,
Tell them that I’m saved and sanctified,
Holy Ghost filled and I’ve been baptized.
I’ve got Jesus on the inside and I’m running for my life.
Won’t you come on home with me?
Won’t you come on home with me?
At the end of the song, my grand father suddenly collapsed and transi-
tioned. The thought that he, who had seen oppression and terror in ways
that haunt our moment; prayed with fervor for basic rights that we, per-
haps, will never have to; and relocated to the North and then back to the
South for a better chance at realizing social life, has returned to the home
of his imagination is sustaining. This book has afforded me the wonderful
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