separation resulting from hostility
The moment I entered the bright, buzzing lobby of Men's House I was overcome by a sense of
alienation and hostility.
conspicuous in position or importance
And too late for me to see that it was not Bledsoe but a preacher, a
prominent Baptist, who shot up wide-eyed with disbelief and outrage, and I shot around and out of the lobby before anyone could think to stop me.
lacking definite form or limits
It was a most painful position, for at the same time, Mary reminded me constantly that something was expected of me, some act of leadership, some newsworthy achievement; and I was torn between resenting her for it and loving her for the
nebulous hope she kept alive.
harming someone in retaliation for something they have done
And the obsession with my identity which I had developed in the factory hospital returned with a
If only all the contradictory voices shouting inside my head would calm down and sing a song in unison, whatever it was I wouldn't care as long as they sang without
dissonance; yes, and avoided the uncertain extremes of the scale.
longing for something past
Then far down at the corner I saw an old man warming his hands against the sides of an odd-looking wagon, from which a stovepipe reeled off a thin spiral of smoke that drifted the odor of baking yams slowly to me, bringing a stab of swift
go back to a previous state
The captions over his picture: Prominent Educator
Reverts to Field Niggerism!
formally reject or disavow a formerly held belief
Editorials would demand that he either
recant or retire from public life.
a mild rebuke or criticism
Seeing them look back at me as though even then in that nineteenth-century day they had expected little, and this with a grim, unillusioned pride that suddenly seemed to me both a
reproach and a warning.
having ceased to exist or live
But they're already dead,
the state of being unknown
He came out from the
anonymity of the crowd and spoke to the people.
in the manner of someone eager to fight
"I'm for the rights of the colored brother to sing!" he shouted
the capability of conscious choice and decision
For it was as though I were looking at my own legs for the first time—independent objects that could of their own
volition lead me to safety or danger.
deeply absorbed in thought
He stood up front beside a microphone, his feet planted solidly on the dirty canvas-covered platform, looking from side to side; his posture dignified and benign, like a
bemused father listening to the performance of his adoring children.
disposed to warfare or hard-line policies
I feel that I can see sharp and clear and far down the dim corridor of history and in it I can hear the footsteps of
extremely wicked, deeply criminal
He pronounced "incorrect" as though the term described the most
heinous crime imaginable, and I stared at him open-mouthed, feeling a vague guilt.
familiarize psychologically or physically
My part in the eviction was kept very much alive, and although I was under orders to make no speeches, I had grown
accustomed to being introduced as a kind of hero.
not secure; beset with difficulties
He can be depended upon in the most
a means of arousing or stirring to action
The Brotherhood is against violence and terror and
provocation of any kind—aggressive, that is.
consent to, give permission
We will not
countenance any aggressive violence.
a channel for communication between groups
Since there was no
liaison between the Brotherhood and the community leaders I assigned myself the task of creating one.
in deplorable condition
And it occurred to me that cleared of its
ramshackle fences and planted with flowers and grass, it might form a pleasant park.
righteousness by virtue of being pious
I sat now facing the portrait of Frederick Douglass, feeling a sudden
piety, remembering and refusing to hear the echoes of my grandfather's voice.
be in control
dominated by the all-embracing idea of Brotherhood.
burn, sear, or freeze using a hot iron or electric current
I ask myself every day, 'What are you doing against Brotherhood?' and when I find it, I root it out, I burn it out like a man
cauterizing a mad-dog bite.
a contentious speech act
You've become identified with that
controversy and it's our job to bring such subjects to the eyes of our readers.
deliberately vague or ambiguous
He hadn't been around since our talk, and I looked across the table into his
evasive face, seeing him stand with a slouch, a rolled paper protruding from his pocket.
freed from any question of guilt
Let them go ahead, they'd find that none of the charges were true and I'd be
cause to suffer devastation
This I had believed with all my being, but now, though still inwardly affirming that belief, I felt a
blighting hurt which prevented me from trying further to defend myself.
assert once again
For by selecting me to speak with its authority on a subject which elsewhere in our society I'd have found taboo, weren't they
reaffirming their belief both in me and in the principles of Brotherhood, proving that they drew no lines even when it came to women?
tending to vary often or widely
It was only after the meeting was breaking up that there came the developments which even my
volatile suspicions hadn't allowed me to foresee.
turn away or aside
She was a small, delicately plump woman with raven hair in which a thin streak of white had begun almost imperceptibly to show, and when she reappeared in the rich red of a hostess gown she was so striking that I had to
avert my somewhat startled eyes.
not clear to the understanding
It was not merely the background of wealth and gracious living, to which I was alien, but simply the being there with her and the sensed possibility of a heightened communication; as though the discordantly invisible and the conspicuously
enigmatic were reaching a delicately balanced harmony.
estimate the nature, quality, ability or significance of
And now taking my arm with sudden energy, saying, "This way, in here," almost pulling me along as the bell rang again, through a door down a short hall, a satiny bedroom, in which she stood
appraising me with a smile, saying, "This is mine," as I looked at her in outrageous disbelief.
serving no useful purpose; having no excuse for being
I threw myself into the lectures, defending, asserting the rights of women; and though the girls continued to buzz around, I was careful to keep the biological and ideological carefully apart—which wasn't always easy, for it was as though many of the sisters were agreed among themselves (and assumed that I accepted it) that the ideological was merely a
superfluous veil for the real concerns of life.