9 Song Circles: Music and Art


“Oh Happy Day,” The Edwin Hawkins Singers, 1969. The only traditional Gospel song ever to crossover and become a hit on the Pop charts, selling 7 million copies worldwide, and earning choir-master Edwin Hawkins his first Grammy Award. The soloist on the song is Dorothy Combs (b. 1944) of Longview, Texas.



Art at the W. E. B. Du Bois Institute, Harvard University




NPR On Being: “The Spiritual Audacity of Abraham Joshua Heschel”




It became increasingly clear to me that I had to make a choice between the white authority-bound institution into which I had put myself and the black race into which I was born.”

In this remarkable Ebony magazine piece of December 1968, “Why I Quit the Convent,” Cincinnati native Saundra Willingham describes her experience as a black Catholic religious sister during the 1960s. About this piece Saundra reflects that “it illustrates how I thought about race in America 55 years ago.  I now believe that I was wrong about America’s ability and willingness to change, thanks to the rise of Barack Obama and the generation of white youth who are coming of age without the sense of entitlement commonly know as ‘white privilege.'” I’m blessed to have Saundra as a friend, fellow parishioner, and contributor to our blog, “Raids Across the Color Line.”


“Are You Walkin’ with Me? Sr. Thea Bowman,” prod. Lisa N. Howorth (University of Mississippi, Center for the Study of Southern Culture, 1990).

Living the Faith: The Story of Sr. Thea Bowman, Boston College/Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration

Sr. Thea: Her Own Story (film trailer)

Thea’s Song, by Charlene Smith and John Feister. Interview with author John Feister




Institute for Black Catholic Studies, Xavier University,  New Orleans



Sister Agnes Toku, a member of the Handmaids of the Holy Child Jesus, and JoAnn Perou sing with the Sister Thea Bowman Gospel Choir during a Mass for Catholics of African ancestry at St. Agnes Cathedral, Rockville Centre, NY. The annual Mass coincides with the national observance of Black History Month. (CNS/Gregory A. Shemitz)

“Rejoice Always,” James Martin, SJ, reflects on the coincidence of joy and sorrow in the Christian life, and especially in the African American spirituals tradition. 


Additional Resources for Chapter 9:


“How the World Finally Changes.” A beautiful very down-to-earth piece on cross-racial friendship by Krista Ramsey of the Cincinnati Enquirer [June 30, 2013]. For my blog post on the article go here

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