Not My Shadow

A True African American Story

by Kenneth W. Rodgers, Sr.


Book Details

Personal Memoirs

After a lifetime of struggle with identification, segregation, integration, and spiritual and cultural self-discovery I awakened to find that all of the knowledge I had gathered amounted to no more than a voluminous collection of unorganized information. Not until I made the pilgrimage to the Motherland and sat at the feet of my indigenous African elders and ancestors did I realize the missing ingredient…

Blending real-life occurrences with beautifully articulated metaphor, author Kenneth Rodgers describes the joy, pain, confusion, and richness of life found in an African-American community. Not My Shadow chronicles one man’s journey of self-discovery on the streets of North Philadelphia in the sixties and seventies, during a time of great upheaval and social change. With wit, humor, and pulsating emotion, Rodgers shares his memories of church, school, and family; his thoughts on politics and society; and his growing-awareness of self; giving the reader an authentic picture of the African-American experience in a way that only one who has grown up in the community can achieve. Not My Shadow is a powerful expose of life in an urban American neighborhood and an intimate look at one man’s soul.


Book Excerpt

The day started very early on Sundays at my childhood home. Sunday was the busiest day of the week for us - a Southern Baptist, Christian family.

The devotional service was the opening act. Usually two or three men (Deacons and/or Trustees) with mumbling voices read-singing scripture. This segment I liken to my own voice when awakened from a deep sleep by the telephone. However, there was always one elder sister willing to brighten the early morning mumble with a bright, albeit tone-deaf rendition. This was followed by a most wondrous event - the choral processional. Glorious robes of bright colors worn by men, women, and children (if it was their Sunday to sing) paraded in a rhythmic, funky strut that could only be accomplished by the descendants of Africa. It was definitely my first identification with the laws of rhythm, beat and movement. This one to two hour segment was only awakening the audience for what was to come. Choirs singing for fifteen or twenty minutes per selection; people (especially my mother) shouting to invite the spirits of our Ancestors to assist us in praise and worship; that wonderful, syncopated hand clapping which is still a struggle for my Caucasian counterparts, and that emotionally instructive organ music which was the ongoing catalyst for spiritual and emotional upliftment, charging and re-charging our emotional batteries as the service occurred.

The entire environment that was church worship and spiritual activity was replaced by the daily mentality and activities of a community certainly not truly rested in the spirituality that is God and foundational Africa. Herein lies my motive. To make clear that for our community in North Philadelphia, and by my research and life experiences, in many if not most African American communities (regardless of socio-economic status), there was and is a clear behavioral and philosophical distinction between religion and spirituality.


About the Author

Kenneth W. Rodgers, Sr.

About the Author:

Kenneth W. Rodgers, Sr. holds degrees in education, history, philosophy, religion, and music and has over 20 years of experience in education, serving as a history professor, school principal, community/youth advocate, educational consultant, lecturer, and musician. He has five children and has been married to his wife, Blanca, for 22 years. Kenneth currently lives in Exton Pennsylvania, where he is the director of academics for a private boarding school and a professor of history and sociology at a New Jersey College.

website hit counter