Black Music and the Civil Rights Movement Essay

3856 Words16 Pages
On July 5, 1954, forty-nine days after the Supreme Court handed down the decision on the Brown vs. Board of Education case, a nineteen year old truck driver recorded an Arthur Crudup blues track called “That’s All Right Mama” (Bertrand 46). Memphis disc jockey Dewey Phillips found the cut and played it on his radio show a few weeks later. He received calls all over from people, mostly white, who wanted to hear more. He quickly located the musician and brought him into the studio for an interview, audiences were shocked to learn that Elvis was white (Bertrand 46). Elvis’s music brought black music into white mainstream pop culture almost overnight. The breakthrough of Elvis happening almost simultaneously with the dawn of…show more content…
In the Puritan world white represented good and black represented evil, including Africans and their culture. After the War Baldwin states that the former puritanical views of whites will be challenged. Musicians such as Elvis Presley were the first to issue this challenge to white society. Early rockers such as Elvis would pave the way for social commentary in music that would add much fire to the Civil Rights Movement. In order to fully understand the explosion in popularity of black music in the years following World War II, one must understand the social conditions in which blacks and whites lived in the American South. An article entitled “Not Just the Same Old Show on my Radio” delves into the very issues behind racism. The article names aspects necessary for social segregation to exist: 1.) There must be a stigmatism of the oppressed group. 2.) There must be some sort of “labeled interaction” between groups. 3.) There must be a hierarchy of discrimination. (Kloosterman, Quispel 152) In the case of the American South we see evidence of the Baldwin’s “Puritan dicta” in each of theses points. Obviously the stigmatism of the African race gathers its logic from the belief of African inferiority. However, of importance at this time will be the second criterion referring to “labeled interaction” between races. The “labeled interaction” that these authors are referring to of course represents the South’s
Open Document