I highly recommend All God’s Dangers The Life of Nate Shaw by Theodore Rosengarten
“God’s got some good people and He’s got some here aint fittin to go to hell, if I must explain. And you don’t know none of em’s ways unless you watch em. The Bible tells you to watch as well as pray.”
– All God’s Dangers by Theodore Rosengarten
While I was livin down on Jenks’ place, Francis gived me and his stepmother a trip to the northern states and back home. . . . First trip I ever went north to amount to anything. Now I had been a place once nearly out of the state of Alabama, and I been to Birmingham. In the times I had a car myself, I drove it to Fort Payne, Alabama, way in there close to Chattanooga, Tennessee. Outside of them trips I never did travel far, except for travelin around them different prison departments, until Francis called me to come to Philadelphia.
I enjoyed life in the city; of course, I was on a trip and I could only observe the life, it weren’t my life. The rulins and laws is different there accordin to the descriptions I gleaned. I seen white and colored walk right out colored man’s home and walk right in a white one’s. Just walkin and talkin and mixin like straws in the wind. I seen colored men that had white wives, white men that had colored wives, and good God, everything was just peaceable and quiet–quieter there than I ever known it here. Still, I didn’t let that turn me into a fool. But folks enjoys a hundred percent more freedom up there, white and black, to move about and be with whoever they choose. It aint complete, though, it aint complete, but black and white both is recognized as people, the one aint less–he may have less but he aint less–and the other aint more. I watched for that. Now I’ve always been a man that didn’t care anythin for this mixin for myself, but I taken it for a sign that my color is better off there. All I want is to be recognized as people–and it seemed to be goin on in Philadelphia.
My son told me a man is just a man there in Philadelphia. They don’t nigger you around and you don’t have to “Mister” anybody on account of his color; don’t have to make out like you worship nobody to get along.
. . . If I lived in the city I wouldn’t have no spaces to look out on, no trees in my yard and maybe no yard; no garden and no small crops. But as I stand now in my age, I wouldn’t miss it too bad because I can’t do nothin with it now.
All God’s Dangers by Theodore Rosegarten (pp. 498-499)