08. Power – places and forms

Our choice for 2016-2017 is to study PLACES AND FORMS OF POWER from the angle of the fight against segregation in the USA in the 1950s and 1960s. Jim Crow Laws had legalized segregation and in spite of their mantra “Separate but equal”, it was evident to see that facilities for Afircan American citizens were inferior to those for White citizens.

On this page, you will find resources we will be using in class to demonstrate how the Civil Rights Movement used non-violent methods to protest.

You will also see how ART / MUSIC was used as a form of POWER to fight against the discrimination of the day. As one protester once said

“Segregationists can threaten us and beat us, but they cannot stop us from singing.”

We will see how music of the day gradually integrated black artists and their influences. A quirky example of dance moves of the 1940s will demonstrate how differently the different sectors of the population were living and how the two parallel worlds were destined to collide at some point.

In the short time we have, we will touch upon the whole movement of protest songs without having time to go into any great depth. We will use as a case study the Billie Holiday song “Strange Fruit”. You can also explore John Coltrane’s “Alabama”, if you want to do some personal work.

Enjoy !!

Background Reading about the Civil Rights Movement

  1. Who was Medgar Evers ? READ HERE.


Only a Pawn in Their Game
A bullet from the back of a bush
Took Medgar Evers’ blood
A finger fired the trigger to his name
A handle hid out in the dark
A hand set the spark
Two eyes took the aim
Behind a man’s brain
But he can’t be blamed
He’s only a pawn in their game
A South politician preaches to the poor white man
“You got more than the blacks, don’t complain
You’re better than them, you been born with white skin, ” they explain
And the Negro’s name
Is used, it is plain
For the politician’s gain
As he rises to fame
And the poor white remains
On the caboose of the train
But it ain’t him to blame
He’s only a pawn in their game
The deputy sheriffs, the soldiers, the governors get paid
And the marshals and cops get the same
But the poor white man’s used in the hands of them all like a tool
He’s taught in his school
From the start by the rule
That the laws are with him
To protect his white skin
To keep up his hate
So he never thinks straight
‘Bout the shape that he’s in
So it ain’t him to blame
He’s only a pawn in their game
From the poverty shacks, he looks from the cracks to the tracks
And the hoofbeats pound in his brain
And he’s taught how to walk in a pack
Shoot in the back
With his fist in a clinch
To hang and to lynch
To hide ‘neath the hood
To kill with no pain
Like a dog on a chain
He ain’t got no name
But it ain’t him to blame
He’s only a pawn in their game
Today, Medgar Evers was buried from the bullet that he caught
They lowered him down as a king
But when the shadowy sun sets on the one
That fired the gun
He’ll see by his grave
On the stone that remains
Carved next to his name
His epitaph plain
Only a pawn in their game
Songwriters: Bob Dylan

2. The March on Washington 1963
MLK washington




2a) I have a dream  Full text I have a dream



3. Jim Crow Laws




4. Segregation

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5. Art as a form of power

5a) The use of gospel music in the fight for desegregation


5b) Benny Goodman and his band Video 1 1937


5c) Benny Goodman Quartet Video 2 1937


5d) John Coltrane Alabama

The story behind the music HERE. You can listen to the eulogy by Dr King and then listen to the piece by John Coltrane and try to find the connections.


5e) Pete Seeger


5f) Joan Baez We shall overcome – March on Washington August 1963


6) Dance styles

6a) 1941 Lindy hopping


6b) Glenn Miller In the Mood (pre 1944)


7) Strange Fruit