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  • feedwordpress 08:01:07 on 2019/04/03 Permalink
    Tags: civil rights, , I've Been to the Mountaintop, Liquid Pleasure, , , , , wedding band   

    “Not everything that is faced can be changed; but nothing can be changed until it is faced”*… 


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    Liquid Pleasure

    “High Yella Masterpiece: We Ain’t No Cotton Pickin’ Negroes” (2011), by Amy Sherald

     

    In North Carolina in 1980, bands wanting to get booked for social and corporate gigs only had to impress one man: Ted Hall. Raised in Charlotte, Hall booked his first band, the Catalinas, to play the Myers Park High School prom after-party in 1959. “We called it ‘The Morning After the Night Before Party,’” said Hall in his slow but certain drawl. In 1960, Hall took his talents to NC State, where he quickly became the fraternities’ go-to guy when they needed to book a band. Soon enough, booking bands went from an easy way for Hall to make “a little extra liquor money” to a full-time job. By the time he signed Liquid Pleasure to an exclusive contract with his company, Hit Attractions, in 1980, Hall had created an enormous cottage industry in the Southeast: an entire economy in which song and dance bands like Liquid Pleasure supplied college fraternities’ demand for cheap entertainment. Cheap because there were so many bands to choose from, which meant Liquid Pleasure had to stand out.

    What the band needed was a gimmick, something to separate themselves from all the other bands jockeying for the boys’ attention. The stakes were high. Kenny Mann viewed each fraternity brother as a potential source of renewable income—soon enough the young men would marry and need a wedding band. To secure all that future business, Liquid Pleasure’s gimmick needed to make a lasting impression. The band’s mentors, Doug Clark and the Hot Nuts, told dirty jokes between sets, delighting young men by insulting their dates. Mann and Liquid Pleasure decided instead that they would insult themselves.

    It all started at a KA party at the University of Alabama. The brothers had hired Liquid Pleasure to be the entertainment for that evening’s party, but things weren’t going great. The audience seemed uptight. To loosen things up, Mann explained, the band let the brothers “come up and scream ‘nigger’ into the microphone.” It was a contest. “There’s no clean way I can say it,” Mann added. “We would let them come up and scream ‘nigger’ into the microphone.” Whoever screamed “nigger” the loudest, won.

    The Monday after the KA party, Ted Hall phoned Kenny Mann with good news. Fraternities at UGA, UNC, Ole Miss, and Clemson all wanted to book Liquid Pleasure for the same night. “What the hell did you do at Alabama, Kenny?” Hall asked. Mann proceeded to tell his agent about the contest. Hall replied with a question from the fraternities. “Well, they want to know if it costs extra.”

    “Yeah,” said Mann. “Tell them it costs five hundred dollars.”

    Liquid Pleasure, an African-American band, has played for almost entirely white audiences for 40 years: for every President since Jimmy Carter, for the famous (Donald Trump, Jr., Laura Ingraham) and the simply wealthy (“[most of] the white people we perform for . . . they aren’t famous . . . but they are rich. These aren’t common white people.”)  Liquid Pleasure’s assent to wedding band superstardom– its rewards and its costs– are an all-too-revealing tale of our times: “That Kind of Money.”

    [Many thanks to friend DB for the link.]

    * James Baldwin, I Am Not Your Negro

    ###

    As we render respect, we might recall that it was on this date in 1968, on the eve of his assassination, that Martin Luther King, Jr., who was in Memphis to support striking sanitation workers, delivered his final public speech, the address that has become known as “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop.”  The full text is here.

    220px-Martin_Luther_King,_Jr. source

     

     
  • feedwordpress 09:01:00 on 2019/01/21 Permalink
    Tags: Caitlin C Rosenthal, , civil rights, , , , ,   

    “Those who deny freedom to others, deserve it not for themselves”*… 


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    management slavery

    Caitlin C, Rosenthal didn’t intend to write a book about slavery. She set out to tackle something much more mundane: the history of business practices. But when she started researching account books from the mid-1800s, a period of major economic development during the rise of industrialization in the United States, Rosenthal stumbled across an unexpected source of innovation.

    Rosenthal, a Harvard-Newcomen Fellow in business history at Harvard Business School, found that southern plantation owners kept complex and meticulous records, measuring the productivity of their slaves and carefully monitoring their profits—often using even more sophisticated methods than manufacturers in the North. Several of the slave owners’ practices, such as incentivizing workers (in this case, to get them to pick more cotton) and depreciating their worth through the years, are widely used in business management today.

    As fascinating as her findings were, Rosenthal had some misgivings about their implications. She didn’t want to be perceived as saying something positive about slavery. On the contrary, she sees her research as a critique of capitalism—one that could broaden the understanding of today’s business practices…

    The balance of this review of Rosenthal’s book, Accounting for Slavery: Masters and Management, at Forbes (and here— the source of the image above– and here).

    Slavery was, this essay suggests, baked into laissez-faire economics from the start; it was central to the thinking of the French thinkers who shaped Adam Smith’s theories.

    By way of further American context, this essay from Rebecca Solnit: “The American civil war didn’t end. And Trump is a Confederate president.”

    And more globally, lest one think that slavery– overt bondage– is something in humankind’s past, consider the plight of the 40 million enslaved today (and the ways that our regular patterns of consumption support their exploiters); follow The Global Slavery Index.

    * Abraham Lincoln

    ###

    As we face history, we might celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on this day marked in his honor.  The holiday was established in 1983 when President Ronald Reagan signed the bill creating this federal holiday.  Reagan had opposed the holiday, citing its cost, joining southern Republicans like Jesse Helms, who were more naked in their reasoning; but the enabling legislation had passed by a veto-proof margin.

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  • feedwordpress 08:01:12 on 2018/05/10 Permalink
    Tags: civil rights, , Fair Housing Act, , , , , , , , Voting Rights Act   

    “It is time for parents to teach young people early on that in diversity there is beauty and there is strength”*… 


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    Since 1990, more than 90 percent of U.S. metro areas saw a decline in racial stratification, signaling a trend toward a more integrated America. Yet, while areas like Houston and Atlanta have undergone rapid demographic changes, cities like Detroit and Chicago still have large areas dominated by a single racial group.Some 50 years ago, policies like the Fair Housing Act and Voting Rights Act were enacted to increase integration, promote equity, combat discrimination and dismantle the lingering legacy of Jim Crow laws. But a Post analysis shows that some cities remain deeply segregated — even as the country itself becomes more diverse.

    To explore these national changes, The Post analyzed census data from 1990, 2000, 2010 and the latest estimates from the 2016 five-year American Community Survey. Using this data, we generated detailed maps of the United States using six race categories: black, white, Hispanic, Asian/Pacific Islander, Native American and multirace/other for the available years…

    The United States is on track to be a majority-minority nation by 2044. But census data show most of our neighbors are the same race.  Take stock of where there has been progress and where there has been none using the interactive (and zoomable to zip code level) map at “America is more diverse than ever — but still segregated.”

    * Maya Angelou

    ###

    As we turn up the heat on the melting pot, we might recall that it was on this date in 1924 that 29 year old J. Edgar Hoover became the fifth Director of the Bureau of Investigation, which became the Federal Bureau of Investigation in 1935; he remained the FBI’s first director until his death in 1972 at the age of 77.

    Hoover has been credited with building the FBI into a larger crime-fighting agency than it was at its inception and with instituting a number of modernizations to police technology, such as a centralized fingerprint file and forensic laboratories.  But especially later in his carer and since his death, Hoover became a controversial figure as evidence of his secretive abuses of power began to surface.  He was found to have exceeded the jurisdiction of the FBI, and to have used the FBI to harass political dissenters and activists (especially civil rights activists; see here and here), to amass secret files on political leaders and to collect evidence using illegal methods.

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  • feedwordpress 08:01:22 on 2017/06/17 Permalink
    Tags: , civil rights, Edward Scissorhands, Heinrich Hoffman, , James Weldon Johnson, , NAACP, Struwwelpeter,   

    “Fear is a wonderful thing, in small doses”*… 


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    In the original edition of Heinrich Hoffman’s 1845 German children’s book, the most famous character—Struwwelpeter, or “Shockheaded Peter,” whose name later became the book’s title—appeared last. In six short, illustrated stories, Hoffman, a physician from Frankfurt, told grisly moral tales: of a boy who wasted away after refusing his soup, another who lay writhing in pain after a mistreated dog exacted revenge, and yet another who had his thumb cut off after he sucked on it one too many times. Struwwelpeter’s sin was that he never cut his nails, bathed, or combed his hair; his punishment was distinct and cruel—he was unloved…

    More original illustrations from the book that inspired Edward Scissorhands at “The 19th-Century Book of Horrors That Scared German Kids Into Behaving.”

    * Neil Gaiman

    ###

    As we mind our p’s and q’s, we might send polymathic birthday greetings to James Weldon Johnson; he was born on this date in 1871.  An African-American author, college professor, lawyer, diplomat (US consul in Venezuela and Nicaragua), songwriter, and civil rights activist, he is probably best remembered for his leadership of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), where he started working in 1917 and of which he later became the first African-American head.

    A part of the Harlem Renaissance, Johnson’s literary works included memoir, poems, novels, anthologies– and a children’s book.

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  • feedwordpress 08:01:36 on 2017/04/15 Permalink
    Tags: , arts funding, civil rights, , , , , Lincoln Memorial, Marian Anderson,   

    “O, had I but followed the arts!”*… 


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    Investment in the arts doesn’t cost us money – it MAKES us money!

    I just got back from a rally at City Hall. It was organized by city council member Jimmy Van Bramer to protest the proposed budget cuts to both publicly funded arts organizations (NEA, NEH and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting) and the library system. Lots of other council members, museum directors, actors, union representatives and many more were on hand. It was a beautiful spring day. I spoke very briefly, making the economic and social argument—that arts funding benefits the economy and creates jobs way in excess of the amount invested. It has the effect of lowering crime, raising property values and lowering child abuse! Really!

    The Trump administration and their Republican allies hope to eliminate funding for a number of federal arts organizations. This is a political move—it really doesn’t amount to much money—it’s a tiny part of the federal budget. The amount of federal funding is $741 million, which sounds like a lot, but is less than one-tenth of 1 percent of the United States’ annual federal spending, an amount supporters say is too small to make a difference in the budget if it was cut. On a budget pie chart it doesn’t even show up, it’s too small.

    Q: What does that “investment” get us as a nation?—A: It gets multiplied more than 100 times= $135.2 BILLION…

    Read on, as David Byrne makes a compelling case at “What Good Are the Arts?

    * Shakespeare, Twelfth Night

    ###

    As we treasure society’s hope chest, we might recall that it was on this date in 1939 that celebrated contralto Marian Anderson sang an Easter Sunday concert for more than 75,000 at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.  A radio audience of millions listened in.

    Anderson had been denied the right to perform at Constitution Hall by the DAR because of her color.  Instead, and at the urging of Eleanor Roosevelt, Harold Ickes permitted her to perform at the Lincoln Memorial.

     

     

     
  • feedwordpress 08:01:03 on 2016/08/28 Permalink
    Tags: 1896 election, civil rights, filibuster, , , , , , Strom Thurmond, , , William McKinley   

    “Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies”*… 


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    A cartoon depicting William Jennings Bryan as a Populist snake, swallowing the Democratic Party, dated 1896

    As if things weren’t weird enough…

    By a number of political measures, this year bears an uncanny resemblance to the transformative 1896 presidential election… It pitted Republican William McKinley against Democrat William Jennings Bryan. Although McKinley won—the incumbent, Grover Cleveland, was a Democrat and the economy was bad—Bryan’s candidacy ushered in an era of fiery oratory and Democratic Party populism. Indeed, Cleveland’s pro-business Democratic Party largely vanished from American politics.

    That probably sounds at least a little bit familiar, what with Trump’s populism and his own brand of fiery oratory. But, political scientists Julia Azari and Marc Hetherington argue in the Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, the similarity goes well beyond personality….

    So what does this mean for the future of American politics? “[W]hen political conflict between the parties becomes polarized, the same polarizing issues tend to become divisive within parties as well,” Azari and Hetherington write. “[T]he fate of previous eras of division suggests that this brand of politics is rarely sustainable in the long term. If not in 2016, it seems change is likely to come soon.”

    The eerie similarities, then to now, detailed at “If History Is a Guide, American Politics Is About to Get Weird.”

    * Mark Twain

    As we batten down the hatches, we might recall that it was on this date in 1957, at 8:54p, that Sen. Strom Thurmond of South Carolina, a Democrat (of the Dixiecrat variety), began a 24 hour and 18 minute filibuster, the longest ever conducted by a single Senator.  Thurmond was speaking in opposition to the Civil Rights Act of 1957; his opposition to the 1964 Civil Rights Act led him to switch to the more comfortable home of the Republican Party.

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  • feedwordpress 08:01:51 on 2015/06/03 Permalink
    Tags: , civil rights, , , Josephine Baker, , ,   

    “I can excuse everything but boredom”*… 


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    that’s very interesting… oh, that’s very interesting… THAT’S very interesting… that’s VERY interesting… that’s very INteresting… THAT’s VEry INteresting

     

    oh, how INTERESTING… yes, how INTERESTING… that sounds so INTERESTING, doesn’t it, Claudine?…  oh my yes, i’m extraordinarily INTERESTED in it DO GO ON…  yes please, go on, do it’s so terribly interesting

     

    Much more conversational coaching at “Women Trying To Politely End Conversations With Men In Western Art History.”

    * Hedy Lamarr

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    As we demur, we might trip the birthday fantastic for Freda Josephine McDonald– better known by her stage nameJosephine Baker– the dancer, singer, actress, and civil rights activist born on this date in 1906 in St. Louis, Mo.  By the mid-1920s, the “Black Venus” had become the toast of Paris and a celebrity throughout Europe; in 1934, she became the first black woman to star in a major motion picture (Zouzou) and to become a genuinely world-famous entertainer.

    Baker was a vocal opponent of segregation in the U.S.; she worked closely with NAACP and refused to perform for segregated audiences.

    Known for assisting the French Resistance during World War II, Baker received the French military honor, the Croix de guerre and was made a Chevalier of the Légion d’honneur by General Charles de Gaulle.  Her funeral service in Paris in 1975 drew 20,000 people, and she was the first American woman to receive a twenty-one-gun salute from the French government.

    Carl Van Vechten’s 1951 portrait of Baker

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