It is strange to have known someone for years and yet not know something as simple as the correct spelling of their name. So after writing last week’s column and then attending the funeral, I was shocked that the spelling given to me in the text message was wrong.
So I want to start off this column by apologizing to the family of Thomas “Hosea” Hozier for the misspelling of his name. I had already told his wife the same thing as we hugged at the funeral. She thanked me for what I wrote, and I in turn was mortified that I had gotten the name wrong.
I had known Tom as Hosea (pronounced like Jose) for so long that I just naturally assumed Hosea was his last name. I’m sure Tom would have cracked up laughing at my “faux pas” because he wasn’t the kind of man to hold grudges or have unkind words to say.
In reading his obituary, I learned so much about him that I didn’t know. Like how he had won an Illinois State Wrestling Championship in 1956. Or that while in the Navy he had been appointed an honorary junior ambassador to Norway. Or that he had once held a major position with the American Hospital Association when it was rare to see a person of color in that arena.
Like most people at the funeral, I sought out his obituary because it is the history of the deceased person’s life. Too often we don’t know of all the accomplishments a person has achieved until we read their death notice.
One of the other items on his funeral service agenda that caught my attention was “praise dance.” When I saw it listed, it piqued my curiosity. As I wasn’t raised in the “Black Church,” I am not familiar with the origins of it. But I was raised around black people and thus my curiosity is valid. During my formative years, when I would go to Kingdom Hall with Connie and St. Joseph’s Catholic Church with Cookie and even pass by the sanctified church on the corner of Cleveland and Clybourn as I made my way home from Sunday school, I don’t recall this phenomenon as part of the church service.
My curiosity, folks, is this: What are the origins of “praise dancing”? Where did it come from and how did it become an integral part of a lot of today’s church services?
The closest I could come to figuring out the origins of “praise dancing” is to go back to the early days of black beauty contests when several of the contestants would do an interpretive dance. Those dances usually were a combination of ballet-type moves and modern dance with a touch of pantomime, all set to music. So how did black folks go from “interpretive” dance on stage to dancing in church? How do people feel about it?
I’m going to give my opinion at a later date but would appreciate getting some input from others before I give my thoughts. Email me your thoughts: firstname.lastname@example.org.