Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Art and Social Transformation OR Listening to “Blueberry Hill” in the Car

I had the pleasure of listening to Fats Domino’s Blueberry Hill while driving around town a couple of nights ago. The captivating beat; the warm honey voice; the love-struck sentiments of a heartstring’s first pluck: an amalgam of sonic glory and youthful passions. Engrossed in the beautiful moonlighted images and the emotive innocence of the lyrics, I was struck by the social context of the song. In this wonderful ditty from the America of 1956, a 28 year old Black man sings accurately to the longings of white teenagers’ hearts. And, horror of horrors, they gleefully listened!

1956: an America of Jim Crow laws, segregated schools and white-only drinking fountains.

Despite these coarse truths….

Rock-and-roll, creative expression, and art merged to become more powerful than the prevailing social boundaries of the time and, as such, they hastened the societal transformations that helped us collectively overcome the prejudices of that era.

Can creative expression help us overcome the prejudices of today?

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