Cecil Williams Quotes
I don’t go and study other folks. I come from where I came from, as a kid, in the little black church I grew up in. And some of the things they did I rejected, because I could see that it was a manipulation and an exaggeration. My struggle is never to fool folks; to keep it authentic – who we are and who we are becoming – rather than to mimic or to translate what others do into my own terms.
I need to be in touch with the people. You’ve got to look in their eyes, and you’ve got to feel what they feel. You’ve got to engage people. All that we do and believe in is engaging people to touch, to heal, to look at each other’s eyes, to feel with each other, to cry with each other, to moan, to groan, to rejoice, to be happy.
There’s great poetry in the Old Testament and the New Testament. And I’m not interested in trying to prove whether this paragraph is as it was or as it should have been or should not be. My pursuit is to find the truth for me in those stories and make them apropos. The important thing is that people wrote them. These were inspirational stories, and you got to see them that way. If you don’t, you’ll get in trouble. So I’m not going to spend a lot of time trying to find out whether or not Mary was a virgin. What do I care about Mary being a virgin?
I’m not interested in being an intellectual or in being traditional, conventional. I’m not interested in having great wisdom. I’m not interested in those facets of the evangelical movement. I don’t have to get stuff from them. I got my own stuff. If it hits you, okay. That’s why I’ve got so many different races, classes, and such a mixture of theologies and philosophies. I’ve got agnostics, atheists, Buddhists, Christians, Jews, Muslims the whole spectrum.
Any racism or barriers that may be put up, you get a tremendous sense of resistance. The more you push me, the greater I am. You can’t hold me down. And the church helped me do that. My family helped that. The whole issue of struggle is critical in my life. Resistance, finding ways to resist. That does not mean you do somebody in to get it. No, it means finding ways to be human in what you do, but making sure that you get it done.
The music certainly plays a major role. You can be free enough to comfort each other, to touch each other, to embrace each other, to engage each other, to not be afraid of each other. The music certainly has that very strong element. Go back to folk songs, gospel, jazz, and spirituals. See, all of that came out of tremendous pain and hurt, rejection, loss, alienation, and abandonment. What I’m doing is I’m expressing my pain and hope at the same time.
I was the fifth child in a family of six, five boys and one girl. Bless that poor girl. We were very poor; it was the 30s. We survived off of the food and the little work that my father could get working on the roads or whatever the WPA provided. We were always in line to get food. The survival of our family really depended on the survival of the other black families in that community. We had that village aspect about us, that African sense about us. We always shared what we had with each other. We were able to make it because there was really a total family, a village.