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Beyond BlackfaceAfrican Americans and the Creation of American Popular Culture, 1890-1930$
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W. Fitzhugh Brundage

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780807834626

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: July 2014

DOI: 10.5149/9780807878026_brundage

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Hear Me Talking to You

Hear Me Talking to You

The Blues and the Romance of Rebellion

(p.239) Hear Me Talking to You
Beyond Blackface

Grace Elizabeth Hale

University of North Carolina Press

This chapter describes how the blues conjured the possibility of change for the black southerners who made and listened to the music and took it with them as they migrated north. The earliest blues musicians and fans had lived through the late nineteenth-century era of racial terrorism and the hardening of segregation into a new culture of oppression. Black freedom, southern whites insisted, would not mean much: the chance to work endlessly for little reward, the opportunity to “play” the “good nigger” of the white southern imagination and the minstrel stage, and the occasion to leave. On plantations, in railroad and timber camps, and in barber shops and cafes across eastern Texas, in the Delta, through the Black Belt of Alabama and Georgia, in the Carolina Piedmont, and in the region's growing cities, African Americans in the early twentieth century responded to a new music that suggested alternatives.

Keywords:   blues, possibility of change, black southerners, blues musicians, racial terrorism

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