I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings Chapter 18
Maya watches the tired farmers come into the store each night, praising the Lord because they are still alive. This makes her angry: she wants them to fight against their awful existence. She can't believe that they go to church after such hard days. They go to a tent that has been set up as a temporary church, and Maya wonders if Jesus could really be there with these tired, dirty people, in this sad place. This is the only time of year when all the black Christians from different churches meet in the same place. They begin to sing. The preacher begins to talk about charity. He makes veiled references to white people, who act as though they are being charitable just by giving black people jobs, then expect them to bow and scrape like slaves in gratitude. Maya realizes that this kind of sermon is meant to hearten the people by helping them to believe that white people will be punished by God for what they have done. Then the preacher says that anyone who wants to be saved can come forward and indicate which church he or she wants to join. Even though this preacher belongs to a particular church, he does not demand that everyone join his. The audience is surprised and pleased by this act of charity, and many people are saved that night.