“I Got What I Got The Hard Way”: Memphis, Muscle Shoals, and the Racial Politics of Southern Music
The music of the South has long been a central metaphor for the region’s tumultuous racial history. Genres like country and soul remain symbols for the real and perceived borders between black and white, while the long history of interracial collaboration in southern music offers a defiant counter-narrative to the South’s troubled history. In this alternative story, there are few more celebrated moments than the integrated recording studios of Memphis and Muscle Shoals in the 1960s and 1970s. To this day, studios like Stax or FAME are held up as sites of Civil Rights-era progress or even utopias where skin color didn’t matter. This narrative of racial harmony has become central to both scholarly and popular understandings of the South’s cultural and political history. But, as historian Charles L. Hughes will discuss, this mythology obscures a more complex story of racial collaboration and conflict. In this lecture, drawn from his acclaimed book Country Soul: Making Music and Making Race in the American South, Hughes will discuss the ways that this mythology has distorted our understanding of the music, its makers, and the contexts from which it emerged. This lecture will be held in the Hitchcock Room at the Sonja Haynes Stone Center for Black Culture and History.
Dr. Charles L. Hughes is the Director of the Memphis Center at Rhodes College. Country Soul was published by the University of North Carolina Press in 2015. He has spoken and published widely on race, music and the South. This event is free and open to the public. Light refreshments will be served.
Join us for a special noon concert with keyboardist John “JoJo” Hermann (Widespread Panic) and New Orleans percussionist Alfred “Uganda” Roberts (Professor Longhair) in the Pleasants Room at Wilson Library. In conversation with folklorist and “Blues Doctor” Bill Ferris, JoJo and Uganda will lead us on a guided tour of New Orleans music and reveal how it helped to shape Widespread Panic’s sound.
The money to pay for the Civil Rights Movement had to come from somewhere. In this talk, Evan Faulkenbury will tell the story of the Voter Education Project (VEP) and how philanthropic foundations paid for and influenced the course of the movement during the 1960s. The VEP solicited grants from foundations, then dispersed the money to hundreds of grassroots voter registration campaigns across the eleven states of the Old Confederacy. With these grants, ranging from $200 to $20,000, local civil rights movements sprang up across the South, coalescing into the broader African American freedom struggle. The VEP was the behind-the-scenes engine of the Civil Rights Movement, empowering local activists to register people, to challenge Jim Crow at the polls, and to revolutionize southern and national politics.
Please join us at the Center for a lunchtime discussion with Faulkenbury, a PhD candidate in History at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a Field Scholar with the Southern Oral History Program. This event is free and open to the public, and light refreshments will be served. Please RSVP to Patrick Horn at email@example.com.