ST. PETERSBURG — Master storyteller Dr. Linda Hogans, Ph. D. hypnotized both children and adults with African storytelling last Sat., Feb. 8 at the Carter G. Woodson Museum, 2240 9th Ave. S.
She got her oral history and storytelling start in the early 1990s when she was a director of a community daycare center. Asked to put together an African-American history program, Hogans decided to get creative and do a storytelling, thus launching her oral historian career.
Hogans shared with the audience that her grandmother had a great impact on her early life.
“Even though my grandmother was blind, she could tell me how to travel safely in the woods or walk with me and tell me specifically where to go,” she recalled.
One of the highlights during her performance was the tale about how African people could fly. In this old folkloric tale, Africans had the magical ability to fly until their captors arrived to bond them with chains and bring them to the “New World.”
In the process, the Africans lost their wings and were forced to make the infamous journey now referred to as the Diaspora. After landing on the shores of North America, an African woman with a child strapped to her back was worn out from working all day, but the overseer of the slaves tried to force her to continue working.
That’s when an elder African named Toby walked over to the girl, knelt and whispered magic words in her ears. Those magic words sank deep into her soul and she remembered how to fly. She took off with her child to the north.
Toby told another young woman laboring in the fields the magic words and she too grew wings and flew to the north. When it was time for Toby to leave the plantation, he told the remaining Africans to pass on the story about their people who could fly from one generation to the next.
Hogans’ performance received a standing ovation. The “Folktales and Fables: Passing on the Oral Tradition to The Youth” event was sponsored by the Jack and Jill Moms of St. Petersburg as part of the “Empower and Educate” 2014 Black History Lecture Series.