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ix Acknowledgments The journey from dissertation to book has not been a solitary endeavor. For this reason, it is fitting that I publicly thank and acknowledge everyone who has supported me in multiple ways along this journey. Through their support, I have gained a deeper appreciation for the scores of people it takes to make any one author shine. Without their support, love, wisdom, mentorship, friendship, and financial encouragement, Preaching the Gospel of Black Revolt would not have been possible. Each in some way has sustained me through the joys and challenges of this project, and I am honored to regard them as hovering between the blank spaces of every word and line in my book. While I know God’s grace and mercy carried me every mile of my way, I also know that each person has given some part of themselves for my personal benefit, and for that I thank them immensely. Thanks to my mother, Shirley A. Bess, whose love and nurturing wisdom trained me to value the English language and its poetic dexterity as a linguistic tool of survival. I also thank her for so many additional lessons that helped me claim and occupy my own selfdefining ground in life. I am fortunate that her black pearls of wisdom were complemented by the unconditional love of my aunts, Caletha Dicks, Anna Rosier, Rosemary Washington, and Carolyn Taylor. To them I express decades of gratitude. Collectively, they exposed me to the arts, cultivated and sustained my love for reading and public speaking, furnished me with computers, various monetary gifts, or simply supported me with special doses of love, favor, prayer, and strong counsel. I am equally thankful for my uncles, Bernard Dicks and William Franklin Dicks. Both of them stand as formidable bulwarks of moral strength, each in their own way. I thank them also for never being too busy to drive miles out x Acknowledgments of their way to accommodate me whenever I called. I thank all of my Washington family for the kind of year-round Christmas love that has no limits and is so emblematic of 1 Corinthians 13. I cannot express enough gratitude to Duquesne University Press and its incredible staff. They valued my project from the start and made the experience of publishing my first monograph easier and more rewarding than I could have imagined. Thanks to Susan Wadsworth-Booth for her strong leadership as director, her bound­ less enthusiasm, and for always being readily accessible. I also express my thanks to the external readers and Rebecca Totaro for sharing their insightful comments and offering encouraging suggestions. Additionally, I’m ever so grateful for the advice that assisted me in navigating rhetorical barriers that initially seemed too burdensome to overcome. Special thanks are in order to Kathleen Meyer, whose eagle eye for copy-editing is exemplary and of immense value to me. To the members of the design team, who delivered an awesome book cover that I continue to find so appealing and easy on the intellectual eye. Thanks also to Larry “Poncho” Brown for being a “Heaven Sent” blessing to this project. I must also thank Andrew Merton, chair of the English Department, Marla Brettschneider, chair of Women’s Studies, Burt Feintuch, director, Center for the Humanities, and Kenneth Fuld, dean of the College of Liberal Arts at UNH for generously underwriting costs associated with publishing my book. In these dire economic times, their generosity is not underestimated by me. I am deeply indebted to Gregory M. Colón Semenza, my dissertation advisor, mentor, and friend. I could not have known when I enrolled in his seventeenth century Renaissance course that Milton would become one of my literary heroes. I thank him for encouraging my unorthodox reading of Paradise Lost when I was sure it would be summarily dismissed and for immediately seeing the potential of my project in addition to supporting my vision and encouraging me to study Milton and his canon further. Because he is a fabulous educator, scholar, and mentor, I have come to discover why African Americans throughout literary history read Milton and continue to do so into the twenty-first century. I thank him also for that fabulous postgraduation party, which my family members still rave about, and to his wife, Cristina, and their Acknowledgments xi adorable sons, Alexander and Ben; please know that I am appreciative that they so lovingly and selflessly supported Greg’s advising commitments for my benefit. Others deserving public acknowledgment include...


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