In this article, I examine my revelations and growth related to folk culture and literature connected to the African American community. I borrow from and play on the Sudanese formulaic ending for the folktale; it seemed to me appropriate - even obligatory- that "I put the tale back where I found it." This maxim is symbolic, reflecting what I find one of the most characteristic elements of Black folklore - that is, the focus on the group, the community, in terms of the source of the historical situation of the tale; the moral lesson; the content, style, and delivery; and the tale's approval and maintenance. In the Black community, an item of folklore will not be admitted or even listened to if it does not reveal the unique characteristics of African materials that some may call soul, others spirit, still others style , sometimes even rhythm. Through examples, I explore these characteristics of story, which extend beyond traditional tales to contemporary media, including television and music.

Document Type


Publication Date

Winter 2007

Publisher Statement

Copyright © 2007, Wayne State University Press. This article first appeared in Storytelling, Self, Society: 3:1 (2007), 1-15.

Please note that downloads of the article are for private/personal use only.