3. They were now sung with the frantic determination of a people who realized that the world was swiftly changing, but for some mystic, complex reason their burden had not.

This quotation appears in Etta James’s chapter during a church service that Etta and Mattie attend together. The crowd has begun to sing an old gospel hymn, clearly moved by the words that have been sung by one generation after another. The words connect the past with the present. They connect the African-American struggle for freedom from slavery to the current struggle of the present generation to make their way in a world that, on the surface, has changed rapidly, but that in reality remains all too similar to the world their parents and their grandparents inherited. Although the African-American experience has changed drastically over the years, there is still so much that remains the same. Yet another generation remains disenfranchised and burdened by poverty. They sing the same hymns, hoping for the same relief and finding the same solace.