Wednesday, May 6, 2015
7:00 PM to 8:30 PM EST

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Elizabeth Taylor 
America in Class® – National Humanities Center 

Civil Rights and Rhythm and Blues

Webinar Leader

Charles McGovern
American Studies Program Director & Director of Undergraduate Studies
Associate Professor, American Studies and History
The College of William & Mary

Webinar Details

When we think of the soundtrack of the 1960s civil rights movement, we tend to think of folk anthems. Some, like We Shall Overcome, were staples of movement rallies. Others, like If I Had a Hammer and Blowin’ in the Wind, transcended the rallies to become pop hits. But black popular music has had a much longer engagement with the freedom struggles of African Americans dating back to the dawn of recorded sound. By the time the civil rights movement accelerated in the mid-1960s, not only folk anthems but black pop music itself served the movement. What did this music say to audiences, black and white, about freedom, struggle, and equality? How did black artists use the marketplace as well as marching to do political work? What were the songs and voices that brought freedom calls to all Americans and people around the world? We will explore familiar hits as well as unheard gems that marked the union of black music and politics. In addition to the Freedom Singers, Odetta and Harry Belafonte, we will explore soul, jazz, and rhythm and blues. Join us to find out what was goin’ on.