John Edgar Stokes, an old black man from the story “Things of This World.” He has a showdown with some local white bigots shortly before his death.
Henrietta Williams, an older black woman in “The Foundations of the Earth.” After her grandson’s death, she invites her grandson’s male lover to stay with her for a few days.
Aaron Streeter, a spoiled and self-conscious man in the story “Cornsilk.” He dwells on and fantasizes over a brief incestuous relationship that he had with his half sister, Jamonica, years earlier.
Mabel Pearsall, a spiritually and physically tired schoolteacher who, in the story “The Strange and Tragic Ballad of Mabel Pearsall,” becomes obsessed with the idea that a young child she sometimes babysits is her husband’s illegitimate offspring.
Booker T. Washington, a fictionalized version of the influential black educator. In the story “This Far,” he visits Tims Creek in 1915, shortly before his death, trying to find connections to some old friends.
Dean Williams, a white homosexual man hired to seduce and help blackmail a wealthy black man in the story “Run, Mourner, Run.”
Lena Walker, a recently widowed middle-aged black woman in the story “What Are Days?” She has a brief, passionate affair with a teenage boy who later seems to disappear.
The Reverend Barden, a minister in “Ragnorak! The Day the Gods Die.” He delivers a eulogy for a young woman with whom he had a sexual affair.
Ida Perry, the widow of the deceased judge “Butch” Perry. She begins to be haunted by the spirit of a young black male whom her husband beat to death many years earlier.
Reginald Kain, the imaginary editor of the title story, a fictional oral history of a slave revolt.
Pharaoh, also known as Menes. In the title story, he leads a possibly apocryphal slave revolt that results in the founding of a settlement that eventually became Tims Creek.