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poetry Juneteenth

Enslavers typically insisted that Africans lacked "civilization," culture, religion until scholars like P. Sterling Stuckey showed beyond doubt the rich complexity --and survival-- of African traditions among African Americans.


By Peter Neil Carroll


                                                In memory of P. Sterling Stuckey

He was tall, built vertical,

lean, lips thin, taut, seldom

flashed his gentle smile

to remind you (and himself)

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that he was on to something big,

that would surprise you, something

of sudden insight, breaking a code.

And when the moment came,

clear, truthful—

the story of the Ring Shout,

the counterclockwise dance,

little bits of burial glass,

the antique vision that traveled

back to Africa, forward to

the monotonous cotton—

he could praise the secret deity,

he had found the key. 

Peter Neil Carroll's latest collections of poetry are This Land, These People which won the Prize Americana and Sketches from Spain: Homage to the Abraham Lincoln Brigade.