Blues Bigotry

Tom Freeland thf4@WATERVALLEY.NET
Mon Jun 1 14:21:17 EDT 1998

On  1 Jun 98 at 11:34, David Silberberg wrote:

> There is a new book out - of course, I forget the name, but it's by
> the author of "Been in the Storm Too Long", about the experiences of
> newly freed blacks during Reconstruction.
> This one is about the experience of Blacks during the Jim Crow South
> - until about 1930.
> One of the sections is about the lynchings / burnings / torture /
> etc. that frequently occurred in the "old south" during this period:
>  very descriptive, brutal stuff.
> E-mail me if anyone wants the book info:  very good book about the
> period and the people.

The book is Leon Litwack's TROUBLE IN MIND.  It more or less covers
black experience from just post-reconstruction (late 1870s) to WWI.
I've read about half of it.

Litwack did a reading from the book here in Oxford; it was taped for
broadcast on C-SPAN.  I HIGHLY recommend watching for that reading;
it was one of the most emotionally intense, gut-wrenching readings
(or public presentations of any kind) I've ever attended.

The book is very very good in many ways, but problematic-- its
primary focus (not suggested by the title) is black responses to
white oppression.  It does not so much deal with black culture in and
of itself or the ways in which black culture was expressed in spite
of the oppression.  (Litwack suggested he was going to get this
criticism at the reading). OTOH it is serious history at its best.
It is built up from black narratives about black experience and (in
so doing) uses a LOT of examples from both blues music and the life
of bluesmen and women.  Charley Patton and Robert Johnson are major
subjects, for instance.

Tom Freeland

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