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Book details
  • Genre:HISTORY
  • SubGenre:United States / 20th Century
  • Language:English
  • Pages:404
  • Paperback ISBN:9780988964464

Only on Sundays

Mahalia Jackson's Long Journey

by Janis F. Kearney

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Only on Sundays: Mahalia Jackson's Long Journey is a look back at the turn of the 20th century in America, and one black southern woman's struggle to attain the American dream. The song Mahalia Jackson is best known for, "Nobody knows the Troubles I've Seen," could have been written for Jackson's journey out of Nigger Town, New Orleans to Chicago's Promised Land. Her struggles didn't stop in Chicago, the struggles never ended. After 30 years of fighting for acceptance from both Black and white America, she miraculously achieved the recognition, the wealth, the security that had been a dream for so long. It wasn't, however, until she met the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. that she would begin her fight for social justice for all Americans.
Who was the young Halie Jackson, the orphan 'taken on,' by her hard Aunt Duke after the death of her mother, the child who loved listening to Bessie Smith, playing baseball with the boys on Saturday evening, and singing grown folks' gospels on Sunday morning. The tall girl who, at 16, stole away against Aunt Duke's wishes, to Chicago's Promised Land - the Promised Land that wasn't, but would become home and allow her to nurture her dreams, sing for her supper, and stretch her boundaries as a black woman, in time acquiring unparalleled fame and wealth. Mahalia Jackson changed the world with her voice. Yet, in spite of her wealth and fame, there was a gaping hole inside, put there when her mother Charity died. Little Halie was only six, and Charity's leaving would forever dampen her happiness, cause her to forever look for something to take her place, spreading her love thin-- among family, friends, acquaintances, admirers and sometimes lovers. She was a woman who abhorred being alone, Mahalia avoided the mirrors that forced her to analyze the who, and why of her present and her past. Loneliness, though, was part of the package for those blessed with global fame. And, so was falling in love often… and too often, unwisely. The woman with the beautiful smile, and more charisma than any one woman should have, would know heartbreak and despair throughout her life. Mahalia's relentless drive, her need for material security and the desire to make her family proud eventually led to the gospel queen's spiritual and health melt-down, proving impossible, the "happily ever-after," story she'd dreamed of all those nights in New Orleans' Nigger Town, as she fell asleep to the vibration of the trains traveling just feet from her home. Mahalia Jackson's reason for being miraculously changed after her chance meeting of the young Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1956. It was Martin who introduced her to a different kind of dream, a higher purpose. Their years-long symbiotic friendship and civil rights collaborations were powerful, life changing for both. Her voice serving as a balm for America's hurts and deferred dreams; Martin's words, impelling Blacks and whites to work together to change the soul of America. Mahalia's death in 1972 was too soon. Yet, there was so much packed into her 60 years on this earth; an astounding legacy that helps define America and the pre- and post-civil rights world she lived and moved inside. Only on Sundays: Mahalia Jackson's Long Journey, adds an important chapter to this great American's life story.
About the author
Janis Faye Kearney grew up in rural Arkansas, the daughter of cotton sharecroppers. The author and publisher writes about hers and other southerners' lives through short stories, memoir, autobiography, biography, and fiction. She has been writing all her life, but began her writing life in earnest in 2001. Janis attended and graduated from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville with a B.A. in Journalism. She credits Arkansas Poet Millier Williams, Civil rights leader Daisy Gatson Bates, and her father TJ Kearney for the path she chose to write stories in hopes of changing the world. Janis served as publisher of the historical Arkansas State Press founded by civil rights legends Daisy Gatson Bates and L.C. Bates, and as Personal Diarist to America's 42nd President William J. Clinton. In 2014, after the death of literary icon Maya Angelou, she founded the Celebrate! Maya Project, a 501.C.3 nonprofit, which serves as a bridge for young people in search of their own voices, and a forum for youth to learn their history and create their own stories, through writing workshops, literary competition, and public forums. Janis was inducted into the Arkansas Writers Hall of Fame in 2016, and in 2014, received the prestigious University of Arkansas Lemke Journalism Award. She resides in Little Rock, Arkansas with her husband Bob Nash, and their dog, Phynx, She is the proud mother of her son DK, grandmother of four and great-grandmother to two.