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tv   Lectures in History Post- Civil Rights Era Music  CSPAN  December 20, 2020 12:00am-1:16am EST

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again sometime. >> thank you. >> if you like american history tv, keep with us knowing the week on facebook, twitter, and youtube. learn about the state in history and see previewed clips of upcoming programs. @cspanhistory. >> teacher teaches about music in the post-civil rights era highlighting james brown and others. it describes how in the 1970's, african-american artists emphasized a black cultural identity in their music. professor butler: welcome to the latest lecture in history 336, rock 'n' roll history in the united states. i am dr. butler. today the topic we are going to
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address is black rock during the post civil rights era. i will share my screen. let's go ahead and get started. the timeframe for the lecture is roughly 1966-1978. those are the historical starting points, in 1966, for reasons that will become clear as we progress. and 1978 is the release date of last work of art that we are going to mention today. to set historical context, one of the things we have to do is situate the music into the historical period, so the connection between the period and the art is abundantly clear. what then do we mean, when we
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use the term post-civil rights era? one of the things it indicates is a changing civil rights struggle. the music of this period is important, because it represents in cultural terms the limits of civil rights-era legislation. i have a couple photographs on the slide that highlight the two legislative triumphs of the traditional civil rights movement. these are the victories against legal segregation, that is what the movement initially, from the beginning in 1954 with the brown
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decision, all the way to the voting rights act of 1965, these are the two most important legislative triumphs of the mainstream movement. july 2, 1964, the civil rights act is signed. a year later august 6, 1965, the , voting rights act is signed into law. now, these pieces of legislation where the result of monumental grassroots protests, community organizing, and organizational decisions from both the top down and the bottom up. but it does begin this phase in the civil rights struggle that we are going to discuss today, and that is the shift from the de jure form of segregation to
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this segregation by law, to de facto forms of segregation, and that is where the limits of legislation come in. they integrate public facilities. they mandate hiring minimums for all citizens. they give protection for movements. they don't address economic eaton disparities, they don't address unequal living conditions, they don't address the legacies of racism that permeate society, particularly outside the south. so in the urban north, what we call the fecteau segregation -- defacto segregation actually
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increased between the 1950's and 1960's. during this period in urban areas, we have a phenomenon known as white flight. where whites that live inside city limits move, in large part because the cities are becoming too identifiably black. as result, urban centers become increasingly african-american, with african-americans living in communities with failing schools, substandard housing, and most importantly, increasingly strained, which are already bad, but increasingly strained relationships with local police. these are elements that the of civilal movement
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rights legislation did not address. literally days after the last legislative victory of the movement, the voting rights act, we have the most destructive race riot in america since 1919. and it occurred in the los angeles neighborhood that was known as watts. in as dr. king later said, the riot is the language of the unheard. and for me, what these urban riots revealed are the limits of legislation i just addressed. watts goes up in flames, beginning late august 1965.
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if you look at the reason the watts riot begins, if you look at the event that begins it, you are sort of missing the issue of de facto segregation. the event that begins the watts riot was the spark that ignites a tinderbox that had been building and building and building for years. it of all throw around -- it revolved around resentment for police brutality, economic powerlessness, poverty, unemployment, all of the things that legislation don't touch. 35,000 people will, estimated, participate. 35,000 people. over 4000 arrests. the national guard is sent to restore order. 4000 arrests, 10,000 injuries,
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$40 million in property damage. $40 million in 1965. 34 african-americans killed. unfortunately, watts is not an aberration. from 1964-1968, there were over 300 urban-based riots that occurred in the united states. most are outside the south. over 300 urban-based riots between 1964-1968. in 1967, there were 109, in 1967 alone, 109 urban-based race riots. the list goes on and on. 250 deaths in total, billions of dollars in property damage, over 60,000 arrests, and that is before dr. king's assassination
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on april 4, 1968. as a result of king's assassination, we have race riots in over 100 cities, because the urban riot is the language of the unheard. what this demonstrates is a shift in the national civil rights movement. the shift from du jurae forms of segregation to what we call today de facto forms of systemic racism. on top of that, we have he alternative methods that african-americans use to combat these persistent trends, the rise of black power. we think of the civil rights movement as all dr. king come all the time, and that does not
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-- that is not the case. you guys have heard me say this before, the movement made king, king didn't make the movement. and after 1965, the movement was insert of an identity. 's least from king organization, seven christian leadership conference. black power is not just a slogan. black power is an identity. black power is a way of life that addressed this to seven -- duster senate racism -- the weremic racism that they powerless to change. the point where black power becomes a national phrase, in greenwood mississippi in 1966,
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stokely carmichael, this individual here, who was a veteran of civil rights campaigns in the south. marching with dr. king during the "march against fear" in that state in 1966, after a violent response by mississippi police to the marchers who had camped out every night, stokely carmichael gave his rallying cry his famous slogan which he had used many times before now, but this is the first time it becomes a national phrase, because of the media coverage. what do we want? black power. stokely carmichael, black power, and the organization he was 1966, the lead in
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student nonviolent coordinating committee, sncc. sncc abandoned interracial alliances, it rejected nonviolent tactics. black power results in independent black political organizing and most important, black armed self-defense. many members embrace marxism is the only way to change america's racist trajectory. but black power as a slogan is a unifying element within the african-american committee. when we think black power, we think of these images and think of the formation that same year of the formation of the black panther party for self-defense . which comes out of the bay area with bobby seale and healy newton, armed, bandoliers of weapons, black pants, leather
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jackets, the black power salute, tommy smith and john carlos gave in the 1968 olympics. black power means for african-americans, particularly younger african-americans, it means self reliance, racial pride, personal assertion. to white americans, it meant violence. two white americans it is a frightening proposition. remember the black pampers as being armed, but we don't remember what they were really about, which was community and power. we don't talk about free breakfast programs.
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we don't talk about the fact the black panthers organized transportation for family members to visit incarcerated relatives. the sickle-cell, free clinics and sickle-cell tests that are given. black power -- that is the essence of what black power was. black power has a political objective, but more important, and this is where the rock 'n' roll elements comes in, black power has a very strong cultural, a very strong cultural element. culturally speaking, the phrase black is beautiful characterized the meaning of black power in the mid-1960's and the late 1960's. it was an ethnic heritage that
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was embrace, not something to be ashamed of. african names, address, natural hairstyle, the afro, becomes a statement against literal white process. it is not a surprise then that this cultural identity, this ideology of pride, surfaces in the popular music of the time. the music is going to reflect a profound shift in african-american identity. the music reflects a profound shift in african-american identity. we talked in the past about soul, what soul represented, what soul was, what soul is, but it is during the mid to late 1960's that the woke younger
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brother of soul emerges and that is called funk. funk is the maturation of soul in a changing america, and no one reflected the shift from soul to funk in american popular music more than james brown. we talked about james brown before, we talked about james brown as the hardest working man in show business. we talked about james brown as mister "please, please, please" in 1956. what we haven't talked about is
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how james brown is the pivotal figure in this post civil rights movement. when i say post civil rights, what i mean is the movement beyond 1965. ofn de facto forms segregation was the objective. that is what most historians mean when they use the term post civil rights era, the period beyond integration. sounds like a good title. funk is built around a prominent baseline, poly rhythmic instrumentations, guitars, horns, keyboards, drums. rhythm and the groove are more important than the melody.
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one of the better lines i have read in describing funk is that it is a form of music in which every musician treats their instrument as if it were a drum, again reiterating the importance of rhythm and the groove. funk like its older brother soul, funk is more about feeling, moving, personal expression. but funk also consciously addressed the harsh reality of urban life. that is the difference. at least the most important historical difference for the purpose of this lecture. funk, as we have discussed in this class, has so many other
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rock 'n' roll offshoots, and represents continuity and change. continuity in the way music addresses contemporary social and economic situations, particularly for black americans, and change in the way the music is articulated. so it is about continuity and change, funk is not different at least as a trend, but it is different in the themes it stresses. continuity goes back to a quote from andrew young, dr. king's right-hand man, that music addresses the civil rights movement in a way that even movement leaders could not.
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music carried the message of the civil rights movement in a way that even movement leaders could not. that is the accessibility of music. that is the accessibility of someone like james brown. of course, as performer, singer, arranger, bandleader, we discussed the importance of james brown before. but what we are going to discuss now, which is more important, is james brown as cultural icon, as a representation of black power. and of course, it came with his 1968 anthem, say it loud, i'm black and i'm proud. ♪ >> we are strong ♪ brother, we can't quit
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until we get our share say it loud i'm black and i'm proud one more time, say it loud i'm black and i'm proud ♪ dr. butler: we can't stop until we get our share. james brown wants to transcend even music. ofwants to be the symbol what he calls, his quote, "the symbol of the black entrepreneur." he wants to be the symbol of black financial success as a
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racialf rachel -- uplift. i will post some of the lyrics for you to read. james brown emphasizes the importance of education and economic investment in a black economy. there are five black-owned radio stations in the united states in 1968, and james brown owned two. it is the classical rags to riches story, that james brown would shine shoes on the steps of the augusta, georgia radio station he later bought. and on that radio station, he covered topics of social importance for black listeners.
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so it is not just a music that reflects pride in one's blackness and cultural heritage, but it is also long-term economic uplift. you can see some of the examples of this from a couple images provided on the powerpoint. james brown started the gold platter restaurant, an invitation for financial independence, where he wanted soul food served in predominantly black communities to black customers by black owners. he sponsored a scholarship, concerts that would give scholarships to students, and in red, it indicates where the scholarships would be presented
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to black students. song titles go from "poppa's got a brand-new bag" to" i don't nothing, open the door i will get it myself, i will get up and get it myself." he does not have a message for a predominantly white audience, and he does not compromise his black cultural identity. in fact, he becomes a representation of black power at a pivotal point in american history. in the 1970's, he ties elvis
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presley with the most hits that reach the pop charts. continuity and change, james brown is unique, but he also represents the business acumen of berry gordy, the rock and soul-based sound of an artist like wilson pickett, and he represents the artistic freedom that the beatles possessed. it leads james brown into relatively interesting predicaments. and if he is moving into the political realm with emphasis on black pride, it makes for a strange photo op in 1972. james brown endorsed richard nixon as president of the united states, because of his economic policies.
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the more things change in history, the more they stay the same. right, kanye? james brown catches a lot of criticism from the black community because of this economic-based and to him, common sense approach to fighting de facto segregation with knowledge. but james brown is not in and of himself the only person that represented this shift in black power emphasis. one of the interesting parts of this shift from accommodation to
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ccommodationism to black freedom on a cultural level is the awakening of motown. we have talked about motown, we talked about berry gordy, we talked about how motown wrote "great melodies with great stories." it was the sound of young america. black music written by, produced by, owned by black artists that target to predominantly white audience. but motown also experiences a transformation, beginning in 1967. in 1967, berry gordy moves the motown business center to los angeles.
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at the same time, if you read interviews with motown artists, you see they have a little more freedom under what was a pretty rough managerial style, shall we say, of berry gordy. barry gordy had tight control over all things motown, and when the business center moves to l.a., it gives a little more freedom to those left behind, freedom people like marvin gaye. marvin gaye underwent both a personal crisis in the late 1960's, but also social awakening. it would be hard to live in detroit during the racial riots that occurred there in the late 1960's and not be impacted by the social and political movement that was engulfing america.
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his brother served three tours in vietnam, frankie gaye. marvin gaye was impacted by what happened in watts, detroit, and what was happening in vietnam in early 1971, and the four dead in ohio at kent state. as he said, "with the world in exploding around me, how am i supposed to keep singing love songs?" and it is with that mindset that marvin gaye, influenced by stories his brother told, which
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they were both reduced to tears, enters the studio and records what is often called the first concept album in black pop music. it is called "what's goin'on?' what i want to do here is show a video that comes through a wonderful website called i am going to play one of the videos that they have posted on their site, of marvin gaye performing live, "what's going on." what i'm asking you to do is listen to the lyrics. the lyrics are transformative. ♪
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>> talk to me so you can see what's going on what's going on what's going on tell me, what's going on? ♪ dr. butler: the video not only emphasizes the force of "what's going on," which is a prayer and a plea, that is what's going on, it is a prayer and a plea, it is hope, and desperation simultaneously.
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it is social commentary. and even in the presentation that is later televised, it intersperses the song with images of ordinary people living their lives in urban america, the vast majority of whom are black. the hope of a young child, the struggle of people with their heads in their hands, is really what marvin gaye hopes to get across. it is interesting, because berry gordy, when he first heard "what's goin'on?," he said he hated it and didn't want to it, andit, -- release it becomes one of the greatest selling in motown history. look at the song. it begins very beatles-like, sergeant peppers-like, and there are different versions of what's going on that begins and ends
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the album. you have songs called sky high about the drug use, which dominate the inner city, save the children, god is love, inner city blues, and mercy mercy me, ecology, which is about the deterioration of the environment, before discussing deterioration of the environment was on the forefront for american citizens. so in that way, every single song addresses a contemporary social issue, which makes it, "what's going on" the first concept album popular black music. marvin gaye is not alone. he is not the only motown artists. influenced by the struggle of de
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facto segregation. even groups like the temptations, a different form of the temptations, this is a much different temptations than the one that achieved so much critical acclaim and success with songs like "my girl." these are the 10 patients who whohese are the temptations in 1972, release a song that symbolizes the struggles of black men who never knew their fathers. a 12-minute song on the original album, the song is titled "papa was a rolling stone." there is 1:52 that passes before the first lyrics are sung, and it is very, very different than
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the typical motown release. ♪ dr. butler: you can hear the funk influence here. >> ♪ it was the third of september i day i will always remember yes i will because that was the day when my daddy died i never got a chance to see him never heard nothing but bad things about him mama, i'm depending on you to tell me the truth mama just hung her head and said, son, papa was a rolling stone wherever he laid his hat was his home and when he died, all he left us was alone ♪
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dr. butler: papa was a rolling stone, wherever he laid his hat was his home, and when he died, all he left us was alone. "a loan. ". the economic struggles for african-american families in the mid-1970's. even motown's most artistically gifted, arguably, maybe not arguably, one of the most proficient musicians on the motown label, who was once called little stevie wonder, is also influenced by this shift in social consciousness and artistic responsibility. in 1973, stevie wonder released "inner visions."
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that is not stevie wonder, the temptations want to go for the next eight minutes with "papa was a rolling stone." stevie wonder writes serious lyrics with complex arrangements pay that is one of his many calling cards, the fact that he writes, produces and plays all the instruments on "innervisions" is remarkable, but not as remarkable as the lyrical content. yeah, stevie wonder well tackles urban issues. he is not as confrontational as marvin gaye, or as confrontational as and the
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family stone in "there is a riot going on," but he is one of the most decorated musicians to deal explicitly with what we call systemic racism. and again, look at the song titles on "innervisions." too hi, about drug abuse, he is mr. know it all, about president nixon. but perhaps most importantly is a story that he tells about the struggles to escape the south, only to end up impoverished in the urban north. the song title is "living for the city." ♪ >> ♪ a boy is born
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in hard time mississippi surrounded by four walls that ain't so pretty his parents give him love and affection to keep them strong, moving in the right direction living just enough, just enough for the city ♪ his father worked some days for 14 hours and you can bet, he barely makes a dollar his mother goes to scrub the floors for many and you had best believe, she hardly gets a penny living just enough, just enough for the city ♪
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dr. butler: it is a very upbeat song, obviously. classic, obviously, but the lyrics of "living for the city" is one of the things that really makes the song stand out. his father worked some days for 14 hours and you can bet, he barely makes a dollar his sister's black, but she is sure enough pretty her skirt is short, but lord her legs are sturdy to walk to school, she' is got -- she's got to get up early her clothes are old, but never are they dirty "living for the city" was released in 1973, so again, we are looking at the post-civil rights era, not just beyond integration, but also beyond the death of dr. king.
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"living for the city" is one of the first soul/funk songs to use the everyday sounds of the city like traffic and sirens in the song. the song is about the dignity and pride that african-americans living in these conditions carried themselves, it is not to be underestimated. the musical blending that we discussed initially emerges in cinema for cultural freedom, and that is what is important about this topic, that musically it is important for the same stories -- and issues that it highlights.
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but music, rock 'n' roll, funk, whatever you want to call it, is one of the cultural expressions of the civil rights movement. the ability, the freedom to express yourself artistically if you are a black artist is one of the most misunderstood legacies of the greater freedom struggle. it is not just political. it is not just in some minor ways economic, it is also cultural. the freedom to express yourself as a black artist, openly, honestly and without constraint, is an extension of what freedom meant to those involved in the movement. so from that paradigm and in that way, the rise of blaxploitation is another
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articulation of the freedom struggle, and those goals. blaxploitation. it represents -- some of the root words are exploitation, and black. it is a new film genre that tell stories that resonate with an african-american audience, from an african-american perspective. it is a rejection of the way african-americans were used in cinema, and the soundtrack was typically driven by funk. so we see film and music coincide in a new expression of cultural independence in the post-civil rights era.
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"sweet sweetback" is often recognized as the first blaxploitation film, situated in a crime-ridden, gritty, realistic inner-city america in which sweetback becomes a vigilante who fights "the man." i thought what we may do is watch a brief trailer of sweetback, to give you an idea
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of how the film was presented to a predominantly black audience. so, with that in mind, i will share the screen and we will watch the first 40 seconds or so of the "sweet sweetback," and it was rated x because of the violence and sexual content. says rated x by an all-white jury. the tagline is, "you bled my mama, you bled my papa, you won't bleed me" [film clip begins ♪ ] >> they won't bleed me. [emergency siren] ♪ >> we just want to borrow one of
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your boys for a couple of hours. take your time. >> how many men were in the ambush? >> i want them here, and i want them now. ♪ dr. butler: "sweet sweetback" became required viewing for members of the black panther party, it is that incendiary and that "revolutionary." i don't know if you caught it, but this was how the film ended, dedicated to all the brothers and sisters who had enough of "the man." in a 40-second clip, that is what blaxploitation is all about, sticking it to the man, as zach cleverly pointed out in the chat, yes, the white man.
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you saw the police who said, we have to take a black person to the station, so we look good. person voice.lite that is pretty good. it is pretty incendiary. it is cultural rebellion. and the connection is that funk is the sound track many of these films. isaac hayes, james brown, curtis mayfield contributes course to scores to several of these songs, and it gives black artists the power to address the state of their own communities with a distinctively black voice. now, let me go back to the powerpoint, because one of the things i want to point out is that motown is not the only label we have discussed that is
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impacted by this period, and become really important contributors to the cultural movement that funk, blaxploitation represented the post-civil rights era. but also stax. stax is the label of memphis. stax is the label of otis redding, sam and dave. stax, like motown, opens her up -- a west coast office in 1968. stax changes in many ways after the assassination of dr. king. new ownership, al bell, an african-american over at studio production, wants to get involved in film.
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blaxploitation gives stax the opportunity to enter this game, and the person who would become a cultural icon, i maintain more impactful than james brown, initially, is a person who released an album named after his unique nickname, "black moses." his name is isaac hayes. and it is with the film "shaft" with richard roundtree that stax and isaac hayes become firmly situated in both the music which reflects changes of the era, and also films that personify this new sense of freedom black artists had.
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the look, the sound, the artistry of isaac hayes are incomparable. here is the theme from "shaft," the film. it wins four grammy awards, song on theack pop popular charts to use wah wah effects. it is often said that the theme from "shaft" is the predecessor of modern rap, and not just because of how often it is sampled. so let me share the screen, and we will watch a brief clip of isaac hayes playing the theme
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from "shaft" in 1973. ♪ >> ♪ who is the man that would risk his neck for his brother man? >> shaft. >> can you dig it? who is the cat who won't cop out when there's danger all about? >> shaft. >> right on. people say shaft is a bad mother >> shut your mouth >> i'm talking about shaft he's a complicated man and no one understands him but his woman >> john shaft ♪ dr. butler: the bald head, the sunglasses, the chains. he said in an interview that he wore so many gold chains in a conscious attempt to reverse the image of what a black man in chains meant.
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think about that, that is a much and direct use of symbols black material success to do what james brown was trying to do. at the academy awards in 1972, he became the first african-american to win an oscar for a non-acting category when "theme from shaft" won best original song, and for what it is worth, the date he took to the academy awards was his grandmother. others follow suit. "super fly," by curtis mayfield. curtis mayfield provides the soundtrack for the film and contributes the song titled "freddie's dead," about the drug dealer who becomes a victim of his own supply.
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continuing the theme of innercity problems that the black community faced. we could go even deeper if time allowed, to talk about the fact that curtis mayfield was the lead singer of the impressions, who released a song which really embodied the nonviolent movement of the early 1960's, "people get ready." and now, he is singing "freddie's dead." that personifies the musical revolution and artistic revolution that is occurring simultaneously. stax eventually grows, and this idea of a black woodstock is
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produced, developed in 1972, that brought together a variety of different social commentary forms. the artistic expression i mentioned that you see, "super fly" in 1972, curtis mayfield, you can see in the poster here blaxploitation, evidently, with curtis mayfield being the leader. "foxy brown" in 1974, with pam grier. it is not a male-dominated
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movement. there is something to be said about the way black masculinity is portrayed in the films we have discussed, but that is a discussion for another day. in 1974, pam grier enters the blaxploitation genre with "foxy brown," don't mess with foxy brown, she is the baddest chick in town, according to the poster. staxx brings a lot of these together. we saw it in the woodstock movement, we saw it in the release of a double album commemorating the festival, a film is made to commercially benefit from the popularity of the festival. stax, in perhaps its most ambitious project in label
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history, wants to host in the l.a. coliseum a black woodstock, as part of the watts community festival. they promote a concert that is titled wattstax. artists, predominantly stax artists, play for free. they take no money for performing. they underwrite the cost of the concert. tickets are one dollar, and every penny went back into the rebuilding of watts for the black community. political figures are there, athletes, the procession begins with the singing of the black national anthem.
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a film is made that did not just commemorate the musical performances, it also provided profound social commentary, in part because a young actor provided a man on the ground commentary and approach during the film. his name is richard pryor. the festival matures as a forum for black social commentary. i don't want you to be confused with the year. 1972, 1972 is the year the concert is put on, but it is 1973 that the film "wattstax" is recorded.
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and the film "wattstax" culminate with the appearance of black moses, isaac hayes himself. you should do yourself a favor and watch the film. jesse jackson starts with his chant of, i am somebody, i am somebody, but the moment isaac hayes is introduced, jesse jackson removes his hat, and he is about to fan boy out. jesse jackson has forgotten the purpose why he is there and has become a devotee of the black moses in that moment. it is a wonderful thing to see. so "wattstax" represents a film -- all which peaks
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with the arrival of the mothership. george clinton and parliament funkadelic is the pinnacle of this topic, creative black freedom in the post civil rights era culminate with parliament funkadelic. parliament funkadelic and its creator, george clinton, a former dj influenced by jimi hendrix, sly and the family stone, miles davis, a dj who plays alice cooper and genesis, prague -- prog rock. influenced by science fiction and humor and comic books,
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represents funk without boundaries, black music as performance art. yeah, it's ridiculous. it's afro-futurism, that's the term it introduces. afro futurism. black based science-fiction approach to social change. it combined funk, social commentary, and elements of glam.
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parliament funkadelic is the name clinton gave to his two groups. parliament, more commercial. funkadelic, more experimental.
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