Tag Archives: race

Today We Learn About: Led Zeppelin & the Blues

Baby, baby, I’m gonna bring it on home to you

I done bought my ticket, I got my load
Conductor done hollered, “All, aboard”
I’m-a take my seat, ride way back
and watch this train roll down the track

Baby, baby, I’m gonna bring it on home to you

-Willie Dixon “Bring It on Home” (1963)

Baby, baby, gon’ bring it on home to you

I’ve got that ticket, I got that load
Join up, gone higher, all aboard
I’m-a take my seat, ride way back
and watch this train roll down the track

Gonna bring it on home, bring it on home to you

-Led Zeppelin “Bring It on Home” (1969)

The popular English rock band Led Zeppelin has been brought to court for their multiple instances of copyright infringement. These cases have settled out of court, but are outnumbered by the startling similarities that reside in the remainder of the band’s catalog. Through an examination of the blues as an art form and contemporary copyright law as it stood at the time of Led Zeppelin’s fame, it will be shown that the band went far beyond the tradition of shared concepts, rhythms, and structure that is present in the blues. Led Zeppelin has committed the unforgivable; they have not only taken ideas, lyrics, arrangements, melodies, and rhythms without any credit, but they have taken these musical elements from a population that has been historically exploited. Led Zeppelin is yet another in a long line of western light skinned appropriators that have taken what they deemed just from African-American culture without fair compensation. This practice has not been isolated to labor and culture, but expanded to creative works that are protected under internationally recognized laws. Called into question is the African-American community’s ability to combat such appropriation. Often the artists themselves are not responsible for litigation, but their record label or other representative who act of the musician’s behalf. We will examine this tendency and its implication for what can be seen as a broad, unrecognized cultural theft. Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under today we learn about

Today We Learn About: Hypocrisy in the Quest for Independence

Samuel Johnson said, “How is it that we hear the largest yelps for liberty among the drivers of the negroes?” In this statement a British man remarks on the tendencies of a nation three thousand miles to the west, and this nations thirst for independence from the very land that Johnson himself called home. Spoken in 1775, these remarks came at a time in history when tensions were high and every opportunity was taken to put down, or bring to light inconsistencies or hypocrisies in the practices of other side of the argument. Much like a political campaign, these comments had effects that went beyond merely stating the truth about those who were shouting for revolution. These comments also served to undermine the revolution as a whole, and break down foundations it had been built upon. Given the historical context of this quote, it can be said that there is a fairly decent amount of symbolism behind these words, and much that serves to be considered in the deconstruction of Johnson’s statement. Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under today we learn about

Today We Learn About: Righteous Propagation

Righteous Propagation is a critique of post-reconstruction black culture and examines the race’s various means to regain their pride, self-love, black consciousness, and identity. The book’s author, Michele Mitchell, uses copious primary sources to explain post-reconstruction African-American culture, painting a vivid picture of the many attempts of the race to find their place in America. Finding this place in America was no easy task for many members of the race, and the book’s author details many of these attempts, both successful and failed. Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under today we learn about

Today We Learn About: Resistance

Hine Article

Kelley Article

Resistance cannot always be measured, as it is not always documented. In addition, an individual’s personal resistance can take many forms and easily runs the risk of being misinterpreted as weakness or a race-wide flaw by those with little insight into the individual in question. Hine suggests that African-American women have fought against sexual categorization and harassment by defining themselves in public as open and welcoming of disclosure. In doing so, these women are actually shielding their true and personal selves from their oppressors. Kelley explains that the actions of African-Americans in the 1940’s serve to illustrate “infrapolitics,” or actions of resistance that are, by design, invisible. With Black women and the black community as a whole both reacting to widespread and institutionalized racism in their own personal and private methods, larger more organized resistance groups have the stage set for their own insurrections. Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under today we learn about

Today We Learn About: Sojourner Truth

Nell Irvin Painter’s 1996 book entitled, Sojourner Truth: A Life, A Symbol tells the story of a young slave girl named Isabella who rises from her meager beginnings to become Sojourner Truth, a woman that many hold as an inspiration, and a woman that is widely regarded as a symbol of abolitionist and feminist ideals. Painter employs a unique approach to her subject matter, as the reader is given extensive background information on not only Sojourner Truth, but also most of the people and institutions she spends time with over her years of preaching and activism. In doing so, Painter treats the reader to a thorough examination of Sojourner Truth, but also of the movements that she has come to represent. Among the movements discussed in the book are the abolition of slavery, women’s rights, African-American resettlement, and the personal struggles that Truth must endure until the end of her days. Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under today we learn about

Today We Learn About: Executive Order 8802

On June 25th of 1941, Franklin D. Roosevelt issued Executive Order 8802, which barred defense companies, both governmentally run and private, from discriminating against potential employees based on matters of race, creed, color, or national origin. This order was the first in a line of bills and executive orders that eventually lead to the Civil Rights Act of the 1960’s and came in response to dissent within the African American community, as well as the need for additional laborers to support the defense industries. Executive Order 8802 was an absolutely necessary step forward for race relations and the war effort in the United States of America because it expanded the work options for African-Americans, built unity within the nation during a time of great upheaval, showed solidarity with the members of the African-American community who were actively pursuing changes in federal policy regarding worker’s rights, and left all sides involved affected positively. Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under today we learn about

Today We Learn About: Mr. and Mrs. Prince

Gretchen Holbrook Gerzina’s Mr. and Mrs. Prince gives the reader a deeply personal look at the process of researching individuals that were once thought unsearchable. We are treated with not only the life story of the books namesakes, but also a vivid account of the struggle to research these individuals, complete with the author’s own personal discoveries and emotional reactions. These are the qualities that set Mr. and Mrs. Prince apart, for the book would stand alone splendidly if it merely told the story of the former slaves who work their way into freedom, buying land, and starting a family along the way. Instead the reader is given the treat of sharing in the writer’s own experiences, from learning of her own connection to the Prince family and hours traveling with her husband in search of previously unfound sources, to deciphering Latin abbreviations in medical records in an effort to piece together the family’s health history. The insight we are given, the emotional connection the author feels toward the story, and level of research described within the tale are all impressive, and serve to weave a story that leaves the reader not only with an understanding of the Prince family, but the author herself. Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under today we learn about