"A Handful of Dinky": African American Storytelling in Missouri
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Black Missourians brought a rich cultural heritage with them, a syncretism of African, Caribbean, Native American and European elements which helped them survive under the most inhuman circumstances. Foremost among their cultural arts was the art of storytelling, rooted in the griot tradition of West Africa. Storytelling continues to occupy an important place in contemporary African American culture. Typically encountering a lack of written records and a paucity of black history books in schools, African Americans have had to rely largely on their shared oral traditions to reconstruct their cultural past. One of the foremost traditional African American narrators in Missouri today is Gladys A. Coggswell, a master storyteller in the Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Program.
Missouri Folk Arts Program, 1992