#Black Lives Matter- The Intersections of Early Recorded Sound 1900-1901,Race and Racial Terror~In Memory of Tulsa 1921 to George Floyd 2020 by Bill Doggett

#Sankofa    An Introduction and Summary of the passionately written feature and topics below

Phonograph recordings mass produced for the exhibition and sale of the ” IPhone of 1900”, the Victrola, Columbia and Edison phonographs commercialized into sound and hardened shellac wax, popular songs and “Saturday Night Live” skits of the best and most popular performers in American entertainment of the time. The most popular entertainment was The Minstrel Show which degraded African American identity into an exaggerated stereotyped state of a pathetic tragic humanity.

The recordings were made for white audiences performed almost exclusively by white artists imitating stereotyped black voicing demonizing Black males, who had only 35 years earlier been bonded in Slavery.

The thesis of my article poses the question that these recordings and their source, The Minstrel Show aided and abetted racial terror in the form of Lynchings reaching a crescendo in vigilante white mob Race Riots and the destruction of Black neighborhoods such as Greenwood in Tulsa Oklahoma and Rosewood, Florida between 1919-1923.

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Lift every voice and sing till earth and heaven ring…

The ephemeral yet iconic words written in 1900 of the African American brothers, James Weldon Johnson and J Rosamund Johnson to what would become The Negro National Anthem presaged a collective idea of hope for The Race at the dawn of The 20th Century.

In formal events of Symbolism, 1900-1901 saw a progress of The Race and an equanimity in Race Relations.

1900

  • The National Negro Business League was established by Booker T Washington for the purpose to promote African American entrepreneurship
  • Nannie Helen Burroughs established The Women’s Convention of The National Baptist Convention
  • An estimated two thirds of landowners in the Mississippi Delta were African American farmers. Many purchased land following the Civil War
  • Since the end of The Civil War, an estimated 30,000 African American men and women had been trained as teachers for the purpose of assisting African American population to read and write*{Freedmen’s Bureau}

1901

  • Booker T Washington was invited by President Theodore Roosevelt to the White House for a meeting is asked to continue the conversation over dinner. This was an event viewed with great symbolism in the Black community
  • Booker T Washington published his autobiography, Up From Slavery
  • Congressman, George H White, the last African American elected to Congress during Reconstruction departed office
  • Bert Williams and George Walker became the first African American recording artists making recordings for The Victor Talking Machine Company that was followed by the well known street whistler, George W. Johnson.

Yet beyond these icons of societal equanimity, for African Americans, 1900 was a Century dawn fraught with racial terror, suppression and violence courtesy of Jim Crow laws which arrived with the landmark 1896 Supreme Court Case Plessy vs Ferguson.

At no time since The Fugitive Slave Act and The Dred Scott Decision, the heralded yet notorious Supreme Court decisions of 1850 and 1857 were Americans of African descent so politically and legally terrorized into a state of separate and unequal re enslavement.

Unlike the dawn of the 20th Century, the dawn of 1863 was famously awaited by midnight vigils of Negro Slaves waiting with spiritual anticipation to see if President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation declaration of freedom would come true.

Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation of 1863, a Civil War Military Order to bring the Confederacy to its knees by the extraordinary act of eviscerating its economic foundation, the institution of slavery and its economic definition of black value and blackness would by 1900  become the foundation of a radicalized American society based in the ideology of “Separate but Equal” and the moral legitimacy of White Supremacy.

Socially utopian by an evolved American President whose bullet bloodied head would become the quintessential sacrifice for militias of radicalized white men determined to revive  The Lost Cause” world of The Antebellum South, neither Frederick Douglass nor Harriet Tubman could have envisioned such a future 35 years forward in the early days of April 1865 when The Civil War had just ended.

At the dawn of The 20th Century, In the face of punitive “Black Codes”, vigilante terrorism by enraged Southern White men at the Lincolnian idea of “Black Freedom”, it did not matter that Booker T Washington, George Washington Carver, Carter G. Woodson or W.E.B. Dubois, spokesmen for The Negro Race would seek to find ways to accommodate and uplift “The Race”.

Their efforts were based on the deferred promissory notes of The 13th, 14th, 15th Amendments of The United States Constitution which expressly elevated The Race to equal footing with White Americans.

The deferred dream of a more perfect Union where “I Pledge Allegiance to The Flag” by a re enslaved Race who dared to challenge the status quo would become an anthem of legal authority to engage in the White Supremacy ritual of racial terror known as  Lynching.

Yet to come in 1903, the black scholar and political progressive, W.E.B Dubois’ important The Souls of Black Folks would provide a critical mirroring of thought about interior and exterior monologues, a double consciousness about self and collective value as a mirror to the realities of Race and Racial Identity in the Post Reconstruction dawning of the 20th Century

Enter the world of popular American entertainment of 1870s-1901, The Minstrel Show and its Minstrel culture of racialized mockery.

Popular long before the dawn of The Civil War and revived with a devouring obsession by White America in the decades leading up to 1900, the world of popular Coon Songs, Live Theater Minstrel Shows and the dawn of recorded sound would simply mirror the nation’s first entertainment pastime, second only to Baseball.

The vast repertoire of popular sheet music of derogatory “Coon Songs” emphatically point to the reality of W.E.B Dubois’ paradigm of double consciousness in their irrefutable documentation of and definition of “blackness”, what it meant to be Negro in post Reconstruction American society.

From my Archive, songs written by white and black lyricists and composers published and mass produced by large music houses in New York often owned by Jewish entrepreneurs such as Joseph W Stern profited from a double consciousness of reality and unreality of “blackness” and black culture

Songs like “Ill Carve That Nigger When We Meet” written by Walter Hamlett and a showcase for the queen of Coon Songs, Flo Irwin were mass produced and distributed as Sunday newspaper stand alone supplements in The Sunday Examiners of New York and San Francisco

Flo Irwin’s sister, May Irwin, an equally famous “coon shouter’s” career was made famous by “The Bully Song” from The Musical Comedy, “The Widow Jones”. With words and music written by Charles Trevathan, the sheet music cover’s illustration depicted a crazed, menacing Black man with a razor intent on killing someone.  The image alone defines unequivocally ‘the black male” as both a danger to the public and to society as a whole.  This song sheet was also mass distributed to commercial newspapers such as The Examiner by the music publisher.

Dangerously ironic but understood in the face of the economic realities of survival in the behemoth Minstrelsy Industry, the Black Minstrel vaudevillian, Irving Jones authored perhaps the greatest song eliciting racialized fear titled “The Dangerous Black Man”. The cover illustration for the song depicts a success oriented ostensibly well to do free wheeling, yet conniving gambler with large cigar who can not to be trusted.

The song was immediately picked up and showcased by famous white black faced Minstrels, Lew Dockstader, Len Spencer, Clarice Vance and even the well known Musical Comedy actress, Emma Carus among many others.

Also accommodationist to the new era of Jim Crow of Plessy vs Ferguson were the well known lyricist and composer team of Bob Cole and Billy Golden whose 1899 song, “Mr Coon You are Alright in Your Place” is the most significant tip of the hat to the new realities of Separate and Unequal

Yet recorded sound in 1901 would push the envelope further putting into wax a number of racially charged songs including a venture into Class and Race divisive, “Go Way Back and Sit Down” by Silas Leachman and multiple songs praising the forbidden love of race miscegenation that created mixed race Yaller Gals” e.g. “Tiger Lilly”, “Truscalina Brown” and “Yaller Gal”.

The recordings of Silas Leachman in particular with their coon black imitative voicing in the announcements immediately clarifies that this is a white man spoofing a black man or in these cases “a coon”.  The clarity that Silas Leachman makes that black men are “coons”, a monkey like animal and caricature of black women as “yaller gals”, the product of a sexual relationship of the slave master and female slave is critical.  That “yaller gals” are the object of sexual desire in particular by dark skin “coons” –as well as—Southern white men is squarely antithetical to the long standing Southern legal prohibition and ostracization of “the mixed race” Black referred to as “the tragic mulatto” can not be spun or invalidated by white academic discourse.

The complicit and complete characterization of black culture at the dawn of recorded sound is extraordinary and can not be viewed without impunity irrespective of its mirroring of the norms and values of American pop culture and social cultural norms of the era.

The year 1901 for the recorded repertoire of Coon Song and racially charged Minstrelsy skits are reflected in numerous early Eldridge Johnson sound recordings of leading Minstrel Vaudevillians to bring their most popular Live Theater Minstrel skits to the recording studio.    Among the most prolific of 1901 were Silas Leachman, Len Spencer, Vess Osman, Burt Shepard and Arthur Collins and the lone African American performers, Bert Williams and George Walker.

The case of Bert Williams and George Walker as critical representors of “The Race” is in my view tragically consequential because of the economic behemoth of the institution of Minstrelsy and Coon Songs already integrated into the American iconography of race and racial identity by 1900 required that they “out black” their white black face competitors. The psychological impact of black men out stereotyping white men in corrosive racialized identity only amplified the ironies of double consciousness.

Even with the rarified exception of the more muted and less racially negative songs of African American lyricist and composers  Bob Cole and J Rosamund Johnson for their Musical Comedies,  White America’s expectation and demand for the definitive vision of “Blackness and Negritude” required nothing less than the  hyperbolic exaggerated white black humor of the leading white vaudevillians and minstrel acts of the period.

The 1977 CBS made for TV movie,”The Minstrel Man” bears out the extraordinary challenges black minstrels faced in a world dominated by hugely popular white black faced minstrels whose financial success and industry power to irrefutably define blackness and fear of blackness is born out in one scene.

In this scene, a black actor/ minstrel is forced to dress as a full costumed African Zulu native who is caged like a wild animal for all to behold.

The caged Black actor dressed as a captured Zulu native is forced to lear at and act menacingly pulling at the cage rods when  whites who come near the cage.  The scene is amplified by “the dangerous caged Zulu” who creates total terror in white faces, especially those of their young children afraid that “the wild animal” might break loose  and kill them.

That this Scene is fictional to the movie does not however eliminate the likelihood that fictional Scenes like these were found in traveling Minstrel Shows of the 1880s-1900.  The socio-cultural and political Symbolism is unmistakable and deafening.

The Live Theater minstrel skit specializations and popular songs white Minstrel artists put into wax  in 1901 that are irrefutably marked with racialized dog whistles and subliminal intimidation

  • Go Way Back and Sit Down by Silas Leachman recorded on December 4th 1901
  • She’s Get To Be Like White Folks More and More by Dan Quinn recorded on April 26th, 1901
  • My Tiger Lilly by Arthur Collins recorded, February 4th, 1901
  • Medley of Plantation Songs by The American Quartet recorded February 17th 1901
  • Just Because She made dem goo goo eyes by Silas Leachman recorded on May 13th, 1901
  • Whoa der Mule by Silas Leachman recorded on May 14th 1901
  • Turkey In the Straw by Silas Leachman on May 15th 1901
  • The Colored Major by Len Spencer and Vess Osman recorded on May 17th 1901
  • Parody on Suwanee River by Burt Shepard recorded on July 10th, 1901
  • Yaller Gal (Laughing song) by  Billy Golden recorded on October 31st,1901
  • Truscalina Brown by Silas Leachman recorded on December 6th,1901

 These  songs and their recorded versions made to promote “the adult new toy”, the phonograph were never intended for the consumption by or entertainment for African Americans who in 1900-1901 were largely indigent as sharecroppers, domestics and cooks.

The phonograph, whether in its cylinder or flat disc version was expensive and often the feature of a large furniture piece intended for special feature placement in large houses of well to do White Americans

From this vantage point, the content of these songs/recordings therefore could be viewed as irrelevant and harmless “Minstrel Vaudeville fare” reflecting the prevailing national entertainment interest .

It is my view that individually and collectively these songs intended or not are rich in racialized dog whistles that promoted a racialized fear exclusively directed at the Black male as inherently criminally suspect and as a sexual predator who must be feared as a threat to white society

As explored further in my response, these  dog whistles towards the Black male in early recorded sound provided an undocumented yet more than casual relationship to the racial terror and the specific high numbers of lynching of black men in 1900-1902 deemed “out of place” and a threat to the cultural political Narrative of The Jim Crow South of 1894-1904

Let’s sample the lyrics of several of them *transcribed from The National Jukebox, the portal of The Recorded Sound Division of The Library of Congress*

Go Way Back Coon and Sit Down   Silas Leachman  1901-12-04

Synopsis: A song about a well to do Black Cafe owner’s problems with a lower class black man,” a coon”, an indigent vagrant who doesn’t work, gets into arguments with customers but always tries to get his liquor for free or by theft

Lyrics include: “Go on back nigger…go back

Old Sam Jones owns a café on Easy Street.

Coon hangs around he likes his Gin but he aint got nothin,  he wont do nothin and….nothin he will try..

But he humiliates and aggravates the customers who buy.

Go way way back and and sit down. Coons in your class are easily found

If you aint got money go way back and sit down  Go on back coon, pass on…nigger go way back and sit down 

This coon will hear for many a year …..go way back and sit down  Go back in your place”

Truscalina Brown  1901-12-06 sung by Silas Leachman

Synopsis: A love song about a dark skinned black man’s love and intention to marry a “yaller gal”

Lyrics include “Nigger, nigger that’s what she is but she certainly is….

Tell all the darkies not to tarry.  Lots of ginger cake and wine and pumpkin pie more than they can carry.   Cuz Im inclined to marry Truscalina Brown—YUM YUM  The envy of the yalla gals and all the coons in town.     …..crazy on their faces and everyone got the frown on the faces…cuz I gonna  marry Truscalina Brown

Ring dem golden bells, over there over there   Tell the Colored Population to hold a United Nations.    Ring dem golden bells  Lawdy lawdy you a fascinatin and Im a talkin to you baby”{Truscalina Brown}

She’s Getting to me More Like White Folks Everyday  1901-04-26 by Dan W Quinn

Synopsis: A song about a black man married to a black woman once exposed to white life style as a maid for wealthy whites at a big hotel starts expecting more of a white life style “acting white”

Lyrics include ” I aint ever seen such a monstrous case since the day that I was born    as in the last 4 weeks between me and of Miss Sally Horn

Since she’s been following the white folks,they put Sally “in the air”  At the big hotel she stays and a woman sent for her to be the maid      We used to go the restaurant plain pork chops they would do

Now she wants a porter house steak with a bottle of champagne   She’s getting more like the white folks every day

Once she was stuck on a calico pattern now all she wants is silks and satin….she’s getting to be more like White folks everyday…”

In the Jim Crow South of 1901, the unreality of the idea of colored maid being in a  protected status and supported by white patrons to become white in tastes and attitudes and by implication “not knowing her place” would have been an unsustainable reality that was punishable.

 MEDLEY OF PLANTATION SONGS 1901-07-17 by The American Quartet.

Synposis: Nostalgia for Lost Cause.

Lyrics include Medley Song#1

“Darkies singing in the evening by the moonlight”

Down by the cornfield, all the darkies sing” MASSA”S IN THE COLD COLD GROUND” Medley Song#2 CARRY ME BACK TO OLE VIRGINNY..”back where the corn and tatters grow, back to where the old darkies long to go” Medley Song#3-  I wonder if the old cabin is still on the hill”

PARODY ON SWANEE RIVER Burt Shepard 1901-07-10

Synopsis: Nostalgia for Pre Civil War South with direct and veiled parody of Negros such as Booker T Washington seeking improving Racial relations: Lyrics include

”Darkies wants to return …..  Niggers have a bunch of sense   Chorus” All Coons they say are glad to get away from The Old Folks at Home”—Shepard imitating coons singing Stephen Foster’s immortal Lost Cause,”The Old Folks at Home”

MY TIGER LILLY   ARTHUR COLLINS  1901-02-02  

Synopsis: Love song about a Light Skinned Negro woman by another Negro man: Lyrics include”

Yalla coon see those crazy niggers  groan

She’s my Tiger Lilly   She’s li dose

*Chorus   She draws niggers like a crowd of flies

A queen in shape of eyes, diamonds in her eyes

My baby Tiger Lilly

I met her at a Ball, took her nigger hand and gave her my card.

She wouldn’t waltz with no other at the ball

She’s coon but mine

*She draws the niggers like a crowd of flies*

She is my sweetest one my Baby Tiger Lilly

 YALLER GAL (Laughing song)  Billy Golden   1901-10-31

Billy Golden

Synopsis: A comical laughing song with title and lyrics which delved into the topics of slavery based Colorism {the post slavery era greater value placed on being of Light skin mixed race Black complexion vs dark skin complexion as superior and more socially desirable} and self deprecation of being a darker skinned black male

Lyrics include “I once did  love a pretty Yaller Gal, Her name was Susie She came from old Virginny  She is the fairest girl in the town. She used to wake this Darkie up just before the break of day     “Now what I tell you bout coming in here waking me up……   she would never go out to walking with any other coon but me   And when I take my banjo down and play a bunch of tunes, all at once she would coming banging at my door. ….I says Look here Nigger, I told  you again

Now nigger stop I tell you.   Nigger now stop I tell you…”    Billy Golden uses nigger over and over to refer to his girlfriend’s enthusiasm for him which can also be viewed In contemporary terms a veiled dog whistle for fear of black male sexuality.

THE COLORED MAJOR  1901-05-17 performed by Len Spencer/Vess Osman

Synopsis: A mockery song about a Negro military Major

Lyrics include

“Coon major mighty naughty greets all women 16 years to old

Black as midnight but sweet on coon, The Colored Major reigns supreme

No coon……. As loud as thunder, Black as midnight but sweet as cream”

In contemporary and historic terms, the lyrics represent a clear dog whistle of fear of black masculinity and prohibited displays of public sexual affection or potential affection by Black males

JUST BECAUSE SHE MADE THEM GOO GOO EYES performed by

Silas Leachman   1901-05-13

Synopsis: Hired black entertainers must stay in their place and not act as if they have legitimate feelings

Lyrics include

“A Black man in a Minstrel show, a light black gal looked at him and smiled   Show Manager says

Mr. Coon you got a pay a fine.  Mr Coon if you hang around

Lawd Lawd just because she made the goo goo eyes”

MR JOHNSON TURN ME LOOSE  Silas Leachman 1901-05-14

Synopsis: Negro male that gambles, loses all his money and steals gets rightful punishment by Mr. Johnson who shoots him to death

Lyrics include:

“Old man Johnson was on his feet. Went down into a nigger crap game. While the coons were a gambling.   Niggers tied…..  he made a jumpin and a commotion about money. Ah Mr Johnson turn on me loose.  I aint the money but I got a good cuse

Other evening….. I went to Johnsons Chicken farm was half way in, I was  looking to get a chicken{steal} Big black coon looking for a chicken in chicken coop, chickens got agitated  alerting Mr. Johnson

Mr. Johnson turn me loose.  Turn me  loose, Ill be good. Yes Ill be good  Ill kill you if you still my chickens.  Mr. Johnson opened fire I got a good excuse… the big black coon now plays 7/11*{*a cards game of craps} way up yonder in Nigger Heaven”

 

This critical paradigm about race, racial identity and racial hegemony of black inferiority are clear and irrefutable

The recordings provide a commercialized mass produced messaging of Race and Racial order mirroring both the laws of The Antebellum and Post Reconstruction South.

That Live Theater and early recorded sound skits mocking other ethnic groups such as Irish, Italian, German, Polish, Jewish and Chinese viewed in the larger culture were viewed as normative pals in the face of the commercialized impact of these songs and recordings faced by African Americans in the daily enforced social, legal and political norms of discrimination.

 With the exception of The Chinese, Irish, Italian, German, Polish, Jewish and other European ethnic races poked fun at in early recorded sound   only African Americans– as a race- were  confronted with an institutionalized architecture of social, cultural and legal discrimination codified as normative  by The Supreme Court’s 1896 Plessy vs Ferguson case which these recorded songs underscored.

This paradigm of a radical Black inferiority did not begin with Plessy vs Ferguson in 1896.

Within the core of both The Black Codes of Southern States inaugurated at the end of The Civil War and codified by States after the contested election of 1876 were justified punishments of Negroes for suggested allegations of social improprieties: vagrancy, improper decorum towards whites, alleged crimes such as stealing and political human rights advocacy deemed seditious to societal norms of The South.   This was also magnified in a small clause in the 13th Amendment ratified by Congress in 1865

Not yet categorized in 1901 as they would be by 1910 as “Darky Stories” or “Darky Humor”, the listening consumption of these recorded humorous statements of “inferiority” about Negroes now mass produced and commercialized in recorded sound did nothing to promote social equanimity or racial progress

Rather, in my view these songs and recordings sampled all concretize an ideology of a necessary and rightful inferiority of Black Americans as a societal group.

The recordings in their whole represent a clear and total invalidation of the Booker T Washingtonian mission of Racial accommodation and Racial uplift.

In the face of the songs and popular recordings, Booker T Washington’s meeting and dinner with President Theodore Roosevelt was an exercise in symbolism, a  Trumpian photo opportunity with the ultimate reality of an accomplishment of “fake news”

Is it any wonder that political work of Racial Uplift that would follow in 1905-1909 Niagara Movement and the founding of The National Association for The Advancement of Colored Peoples of the political progressive W.E.B Dubois would also be met with the challenge of a larger white societal invalidation .

Within 5 years of the Niagara Movement and the founding of The National Association for The Advancement of Colored People,  the world view of these songs and their recorded versions would find critical validation in the most important entertainment to be offered in 1915 to The American Public, The Birth of A Nation, the first cinematic epic film in the genre of Moving Pictures.

The Birth of A Nation validated and glorified white supremacy and its savior, The Klu Klux Klan, a white militia response to the Lincolnian idea of “Black Freedom”.

Current and historical research into the dramatic rise of lynchings expressly of Negro males between 1895-1905 – the decade of the dawn of The Phonograph– suggest more than a casual relationship of the mass commercialization and consumption of these recordings and an encouragement and validation for already prevalent racial terrorism.

The contemporary work of The Equal Justice Initiative, a Social and Restorative Justice organization based in Mobile, Alabama dedicated to research and documentation of lynchings in the South addresses the ideas I am putting forward that these recordings played an undocumented role as supportive if not inspirational as a proverbial match to light an already pre disposed racial tension tender box.

The work of The Equal Justice Initiative supports and amplifies the thesis of my response in ways previously not considered in the literature on recorded Minstrel songs and their societal impact.

From their website “After the end of slavery and the premature end of Reconstruction, Southern whites who had fought to keep slavery regained power of their state governments. The convict leasing and sharecropping systems were used to restore white economic dominance, and discriminatory laws deprived black people of political rights. Violent intimidation was the method of enforcement.

Lynching emerged as a vicious tool of racial control in the South after the Civil War, as a way to reestablish white supremacy and suppress black civil rights. At the end of the 19th century, Southern lynch mobs targeted and terrorized African Americans with impunity.

Lynching of African Americans was terrorism, a widely supported phenomenon used to enforce racial subordination and segregation. Lynchings were violent and public events that traumatized black people throughout the country and were largely tolerated by state and federal officials.”

Lynching profoundly impacted race relations in this country and shaped the contemporary geographic, political, social, and economic conditions of African Americans. Most importantly, lynching reinforced a narrative of racial difference and a legacy of racial inequality

EJI researchers have documented 4075 racial terror lynchings of African Americans in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia between 1877 and 1950 – at least 800 more than previously reported. In addition, for all the documented lynchings covered in newspaper reports, many racial terror lynchings went unreported and their victims remain unknown.”

From the decades long work of Lynching documentation, the chart below documents Southern lynchings during the first decade of the Phonograph/Phonograph record which represents the violent deaths by lynching of 845 black males.    .

Did the degradation and demonization of the Black male as intrinsically criminal and a societal threat in the Coon Songs and Minstrel skits of 1894-1904 and the commercialization of this messaging with the new phonograph and its recorded catalog contribute to racial terror

Graph Below The first row are Whites, The Second Row, Blacks, The Third, the combined total of documented lynching by year

1894 58 134 192
1895 66 113 179
1896 45 78 123
1897 35 123 158
1898 19 101 120
1899 21 85 106
1900 9 106 115
1901 25 105 130
1902 7 85 92
1903 15 84 99
1904 7 76 83

 

These figures represent the collective historical documentation of African American scholars and Turn of The Century social progressives including Ida B Wells and Monroe Work, both of whose work became the foundation for the critical mid 20th century work of The Tuskegee Institute

Clearly, significant Phd and Post Doctoral dissertation work is necessary to further establish the connection of these songs as unintended yet consequential inspiration for the increased number of lynchings of black males during this time period, especially the years 1897-1901

However, it is the thesis of my response that the critical impact of these recordings during their first decade 1894-1904 is that words matter, that subliminal messaging matters and had the power to define outcomes, imagined and real.

#White Humor…Black Bodies

As the great grandson of ex slaves from The Hardaway Plantation near Richmond Virginia and the great nephew of one of the handful of Black women who would benefit from The Reconstruction era’s Freedman’s Bureau Training Hospital for Nurses at Howard University and graduate in its Class of 1900, words matter, messaging matters, authenticity in intention matters 

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A Post Script  ~An Open Mic Poetic Ode~ for The Movement known as #Black Lives Matter

Libations of Poetic Odes to The Ancestors, whose lives were impacted by technology’s definition of race through racialized fear in sheet music and its translation into early recorded sound through the phonograph

 Black is the color of many thousands gone, the souls of a people chained, unchained and chained again… burdened, hardened, anesthetized to pain of a mask of double consciousness and cultural appropriation by men who would wear white hoods…intimidate, deconstruct me and you back into a state of singing and dancing euphoria to a time long gone with the wind but immortalized in a new technology, a waxed cylinder, a phonograph disc.

Back!!! {the sound of a slaver’s whip}…Carry me……. back to Old Virginny, where the corn, cotton and tatters grow, where the old darkies long to sing I Dream of Jeannie with The Light Brown Hair and Massa’s In The Cold Cold Ground

Back !!! {the sound of a slaver’s whip} to  Old Man River, where “Niggers all work on The Mississippi while the white folks play”

 Back!!!  {the sound of a slaver’s whip}……far away…back from…. a Lincolnian utopianism of  a “Black Freedom” of Lift Every Voice and Sing ….till earth and heaven ring

 White humor, Black Bodies immortalized in a new technology of Moving Pictures, the still Kodak camera and its photograph to sensationalize my capture inspired by “Darky Stories” of a lynching comedy by Ralph Bingham or “Black male criminality” by Walter Kelly  with bold point newspaper notices and invitations passed out at churches to purchase tickets for hundreds if not thousands to gather, watch and behold my torture and death documented for sale in photo post cards.

 #Strange Fruit hanging from southern poplar trees

 #White Humor, Black bodies… Reverse characterization of inconsequentiality 

Black males,consequential mockery as skeet fish in a carnival shooting gallery where the grand prize is awarded for the one with the most bullet holes….. justified for the comfort and moral sanctity of “Whites Only, Colored Only”

#Legacy….pastoral scene of The Gallant South…scent of magnolias sweet and fresh then the sudden smell of burning flesh

Strange Fruit hanging from southern poplar trees transfigured in 2014-2020 from blood hounds and torch mobs to police sirens of white men transformed from white sheets and hoods exchanged for police uniforms  pre disposed to use deadly force of their lynch mob ancestors

#Say Their Names– George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Freddie Gray, Philando Castile, Tamir Rice, Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Jordan Davis, Eric Garner, Stephon Clarke and so many more

From Tahisi Coates  Between The World and Me “I write to you in your fifteen year, if you did not know before, Police departments of your country have been endowed with authority to destroy your body. It does not matter if the destruction is the result of an unfortunate over reaction……that originates in a misunderstanding.…..all of this is common to Black people, all of this is old for Black People……no one is held responsible.”

  #Sankofa …..When Israel was in Egypt land, let my people go!

Oppressed so hard they could not stand,let my people go!

#Go Down Moses, way down in Egypt land.  Tell all pharaohs to let my people go!

 In honor of  George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Eric Garner

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About the Author,The Recordings and featured Photographs: On your laptop/desktop with “Allow Flash” in Chrome to hear and view auto play music and embedded videos visit the following three website links  Lectures on Race,Historical Media and Current Events

Race and Early Sound Recordings 

#1619~History Interactions: A Photo Essay

 

 

 

#Charlottesville,#AnthemProtest:The Legacies of The Civil War on Race and Technology

#Charlottesville, #AnthemProtest: The Legacies of The Civil War on Race and Race Relations continues to be at the forefront of the national discontent and the national call to confront and dialogue our contentious Past.   We saw that this week at The Grammy Awards and with President Trump’s The State of The Union Star Spangled Banner patriotism references.

Please join me in San Francisco during February  for a dynamic Multi Media Performance Lecture that looks at the topics behind the national debate. These lectures are sponsored by The San Francisco Public Library’s “More Than A Month” city wide Black History Month events.

#Charlottesville, #Anthem Protest:The Legacies of The Civil War on Race and Technology

  • February 7th, 7pm  San Francisco Public Library, Merced Branch,155 Winston, SF 94132
  • February 24th, San Francisco Public Library, Sunset Branch   1305  18th Avenue, SF 94122

#Charlottesville,#AnthemProtest