We All Know One: Charles Ramsey, Antoine Dodson, Sweet Brown And The Long Tradition Of Black Storytelling
2. “Girl, you will not believe what just happened….”
3. “See, what happened was…” Of course, there are variations, but generally speaking, whenever a person begins a story like that, be sure to pop some popcorn and pull up a seat because you, my friend, are in the midst of a storyteller. And there are so many among us. Take that one uncle you have who commands attention at family gatherings with his elaborate tales of family past drama and misadventures. Or The loud lady on the bus talking to a girlfriend, who you try to ignore but amusingly find yourself swept up in her whimsical narration of her current relationship. Or your little niece, who doesn’t just tell you of her trip to the zoo, but does this little cute thing where she imitates animal sounds and gestures too. Some folks really do know how to tell a good story.
Slave versions of history, like all slave tales, were enhanced by the manner of their delivery. The oral inventiveness of good storytellers, who appear to have been relatively uncommon in black culture, was a source of delight and stimulation to their audiences. Their narratives were interlarded with chants, mimicry, rhymes, and songs. They talked animatedly, especially in the dialogues and changed the voice to represent the different animals. Nothing was too difficult for a storyteller to represent: the chanting sermon of a black preacher and the responses of his entire congregation, the sounds of a railway engine, the cries of barnyard animals, the eerie moans of spectral beings, all formed an integral part of black tales.