Encyclopedia of Black Folklore and Humor
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Not to be confused with the more recent Encyclopedia of African American Folklore (which is an academic work), this is a good layman's collection of Black American Folktales from slavery to 1971, when the book was published, with some good and interesting commentary between the tales by Spaulding.
Most of the familiar stuff is here, such as Brer Rabbit, John Henry, and Old John tales, as well as rare materials from obscure publications. The collection also benefits from the work of J. Mason Brewer, who was a pioneer in this kind of work. Brewer's works such as "Juneteenth" (a 1932 anthology of Texas slave stories that was among the first published collections of black folktales by a black writer) and "Humorous Folk Tales of the South Carolina Negro" are not easily available, so we get large chunks of material from these books.
We also get a good collection of lesser known slave songs, including an extremely rare one that celebrated the Gabriel Prosser revolt in Virgina in 1800.
The book closes with some Civil Rights era humor of the type that Dick Gregory specialized in at the time.
Overall, an excellent book from which to laugh and learn.