Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Let Freedom Sing: Songs from the Movement

If you missed the live 2010 White House Celebration of Music from the Civil Rights Movement, here’s the next best thing.

In January, 2009, Time Life released Let Freedom Sing: The Music of the Civil Rights Movement.

The outstanding 3 CD box set includes 2 pages of provocative liner notes written by Public Enemy front man Chuck D.

His comments are part of a large, colorful, 40 page booklet that includes lots of facts about all the songs.

Chuck says “there’s a reason why listening to the past 100 years of black music can bring a sense of voice, sound, meaning, joy, and pain...as well as a historical timeline."

He adds “way before an iPod, these songs rang in my head as they navigated me through my near half a century of life."

What’s great about this collection is the representation of each of the post 1930 - 20th century decades.

Historical facts acknowledging key years pertaining to the civil rights movement are also included in their own highlighted paragraphs weaved between the elaborate music notes.

The Southern Sons kick things off on disc one with “Go Down Moses,” recorded in 1941.

Six of the tracks are from the 1930’s and 1940’s.  Four are from the 1950’s, including Nat King Cole’s stirring 1956 classic “We Are Americans Too."

As you’ll see from the track list below, no decade is left out. The best songs from the civil rights movement are included.

There are some excellent alternative versions rather than hits you might expect.

Otis Redding, not Sam Cooke sings “A Change is Gonna Come.” Bob & Marcia, not Nina Simone sings “Young, Gifted, and Black."

The liner notes have all the back-stories about why these versions were selected.

Watch our 90 second video to hear clips of 3 of the songs.

Let Freedom Sing: The Music of the Civil Rights Movement:


    Disc One
  1. “Go Down Moses” - The Southern Sons, 1941
  2. “Strange Fruit” - Billie Holiday, 1939
  3. “Uncle Sam Says” - Josh White, 1941
  4. “ No Restricted Signs” - The Golden Gate Quartet, 1947
  5. “Black, Brown, and White” - Brownie McGhee, 1947
  6. “The Hammer Song (If I Had a Hammer)” - The Weavers, 1949
  7. “The Death of Emmett Till” parts 1 & 2 - The Ramparts, 1955,
  8. “When Do I Get To Be Called A Man” - Big Bill Broonzy, 1955
  9. “The Alabama Bus” - Brother Will Hairston, 1956
  10. “We Are Americans Too” - Nat King Cole, 1956
  11. “Why Am I Treated So Bad” - The Staple Singers, 1966
  12. “I Shall Not Be Moved” - The Harmonizing Four, 1959
  13. “Oh Freedom” - Harry Belafonte, 1959
  14. “Ride On, Red, Ride On” - Louisiana Red, 1962
  15. “Mississippi Goddam” - Nina Simone, 1964
  16. “ Blowin’ In The Wind” - Bob Dylan, 1962
  17. “We Shall Overcome” - Mahalia Jackson, 1963
  18. “Too Many Martyrs” - Phil Ochs, 1964
  19. “Alabama Blues” - J. B. Lenoir, 1965
  20. “Our Freedom Song” - The Jubilee Hummingbirds, 1965
  21. “A Change Is Gonna Come” - Otis Redding, 1965


    Disc Two
  1. “Forty Acres and A Mule” - Oscar Brown Jr., 1965
  2. “People Get Ready” - The Impressions, 1965
  3. “Nobody Can Turn Me Around” - The Mighty Clouds of Joy, 1966
  4. “I Wish I Knew (How It Would Feel To Be Free)” - Solomon Burke, 1968
  5. “Respect” - Aretha Franklin, 1967
  6. “The Motor City is Burning” - John Lee Hooker, 1967
  7. “Cryin In The Streets” part 1 - George Perkins & The Silver Stars, 1968
  8. “Abraham, Martin, and John” - Smokey Robinson & The Miracles, 1969
  9. “The Prayer” Ray Scott, 1970
  10. “Say It Loud - I’m Black and I’m Proud” part 1 - James Brown, 1968
  11. “And Black is Beautiful” - Nickie Lee, 1968
  12. “Sock It To ‘Em Soul Brother” - Bill Moss, 1969
  13. “Why I Sing The Blues” part 1 - B.B. King, 1969
  14. “I Don’t Want Nobody To Give Me Nothin (Open Up The Door, I’ll Get It Myself)” part 1 - James Brown, 1969
  15. “Stand!” - Sly & The Family Stone, 1969
  16. “Message From A Black Man” - The Temptations, 1969
  17. “Is It Because I’m Black” - Sly Johnson, 1969
  18. “I Was Born Blue” - Swamp Dogg, 1970
  19. “Yes, We Can” part 1 - Lee Dorsey, 1970
  20. “We the People Who Are Darker Than Blue” - Curtis Mayfield, 1970
  21. “Young, Gifted, and Black” - Bob & Marcia, 1970


    Disc Three
  1. “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised” - Gil Scott-Heron, 1971
  2. “(For God’s Sake) Give More Power To The People” - The Chi-Lites, 1971
  3. “Smiling Faces Sometimes” - Undisputed Truth, 1971
  4. “Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler)” - Marvin Gaye, 1971
  5. “Hercules” - Aaron Neville, 1973
  6. “Get Up, Stand Up” - Bob Marley and The Wailers, 1973
  7. “Fight The Power” part 1 - Isley Brothers, 1975
  8. “Give The People What They Want” - O’Jays, 1975
  9. “Black Is Black” - Jungle Brothers, 1988
  10. “Sister Rosa” - The Neville Brothers, 1989
  11. “The Pride” - Chuck D., 1996
  12. “Unity” - Sounds of Blackness, 2005
  13. “None of Us Are Free” - Solomon Burke, 2002
  14. “Eyes On The Prize” - The Sojourners, 2007
  15. “Down In Mississippi” - Mavis Staples, 2007
  16. “Free At Last” - The Blind Boys of Alabama, 2008

As you can see, this 3-disc box set is excellent.  Don’t know some of the artists?  Discover the songs by checking out Let Freedom Sing: The Music of the Civil Rights Movement.

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Posted by Hugh Smith on 02/24 at 08:00 PM
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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

USA Black History from Africans, Europeans, and Asians

"58% of the African American community has at least 12.5 percent European ancestry which is the equivalent of one great grand parent."

This revelation comes from Henry Louis Gates Jr., Executive Director and host of the PBS series, Faces of America.

Gates is also Director of the W.E.B. DuBois Institute for African and African American Research at Harvard University.

“Skip" Gates has used genealogy and genetics to trace families histories.

The opening statistic I used to magnify universal black history implies that the focus for better understanding must be global, rather than just USA based (for Americans).

Dr. Gates is set to expand his future footprint as he’ll be bringing us The Black Americas, a four hour TV series examining black culture in the Caribbean and Latin America.

Gates notes that “Brazil is the 2nd largest black nation in the world after Nigeria."

African global migration out of the continent following the dawn of man has fostered complicated African - European and African - Asian ancestry.

Runoko Rashidi (pictured here), a historian, research specialist, writer, world traveler, and public lecturer focusing on the African foundations of world civilizations is an expert in this area.

He has made presentations at more than 125 colleges, universities, secondary schools, libraries, book stores, churches and community centers.

Traveling the international circuit Runoko has lectured in over 50 countries.

Some of Dr. Rashidi’s expertise:

  1. The African Presence in India - black presence in India in ancient and modern times
  2. The African presence in Southeast and East Asia - black presence in ancient Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand, Philippines, China and Japan
  3. The African presence in the Americas - African presence in the Americas from ancient to modern times
  4. The African presence in the Middle East - African presence in Southwest Asia from ancient to modern times
  5. The Black presence in South Asia - India, Pakistan, Bangladesh from ancient to modern times
  6. The African Presence in Europe - the African presence in early Europe
  7. High in the Andes - Runoko’s travels in Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia
  8. Return to the Nile Valley - a comprehensive look at the African presence in ancient Egypt and Nubia
  9. Runoko Rashidi Live in Egypt - Interviews in Egyptian museums and temples
  10. Who is the Original Man? - A look at Africa as the Mother Continent of humanity
  11. Asia and Blacks - A television interview featuring Runoko Rashidi on the African presence in ancient and modern Asia

These are some of his DVD titles that explore the global presence of black people.

Black history cross-cultural interconnections are fascinating.  Discover more by visiting Dr. Runuko Rashidi on the web.

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Posted by Hugh Smith on 02/17 at 07:30 PM
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Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The Story of America's Black Patriots

In the 20th Century when the United States declared war against Germany, Dr. Louis T. Wright enlisted in the US Army.

In 1918, he was on the front lines in St. Die, France.

Dr. Wright, (1891-1952), excelled in the field of medicine and brain trauma.  He is the author of nearly 20 academic papers about brain surgery.

He graduated from Clark University in Atlanta in 1911.  Dr. Wright graduated from Harvard Medical School in 1915.

For Love of Liberty: The Story of America’s Black Patriots features an excellent profile of Dr. Wright, along with 28 other significant African Americans who served their country in the armed forces.

You’ll also find profiles about specific marine regiments, infantry divisions, airborne divisions, and calvary divisions.

The educators section of the For Love of Liberty website offers valuable pdf downloads for college and high school facilitators.

As the authors of this collection express, “The lessons that can be learned in For Love of Liberty: The Story of America’s Black Patriots aren’t found in textbooks,” and that’s a shame!

More black history military connections can be found at the website dedicated to late master diver Carl Brashear, whose life story was told in the popular 2002 movie Men of Honor.

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Posted by Hugh Smith on 02/10 at 09:00 AM
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Wednesday, February 03, 2010

African American Demographic Trends Exposed

How many African Americans live in the USA?  What percentage of African Americans older than 25 have at least a high school diploma?  How many black Americans voted for Barack Obama?

In 2007, BlackDemographics.com was created by Akiim DeShay to present US Census Bureau compiled facts and figures about African American lifestyles in a format that would be easy to use and understand.

Throughout the year, and especially during Black History Month, BlackDemographics.com is a great resource for statistics relevant to all of the following areas:

  • Population
  • Black cities and states
  • Employment
  • Middle Class
  • Housing
  • Education
  • Health
  • Crime
  • Geography
  • Politics
  • Religion

The site is well designed and simple to use.

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Posted by Hugh Smith on 02/03 at 08:30 PM
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