Race and sg
Part of what accounts my recent bloggerly silence is work on a couple of book chapters about the history (and historiography) of southern gospel, and one issue I’ve had to deal with recently is the question of race and southern gospel - specifically, how comparatively late into the twentieth century mainstream southern gospel acts were appearing alongside, recording music specifically addressed to, or otherwise making a point of being conspicuously a part of Jim Crow politicians and culture.
On the one hand, this should come as little surprise given the southern, white roots of the music. On the other hand, it’s also true that the world of southern gospel has pretty effectively contracted more or less collective amnesia in the last quarter century or so about its often (at best) somewhat checkered past in terms of race, so that it’s not necessarily a given to think of sg and race intersecting. There are a lot of caveats and issues here (for one, white southern yeomanry and their descendants lived largely separate lives from blacks drom Reconstruction onward well into the mid century), and you’ll have to read the book for the fuller discussion (though this guy gives you a flavor of the sort of thing we’re talking about as part of his larger exploration of Elvis and race), but my question here is: how late did this sort of thing go on in mainstream sg - high profile groups and personalities affiliating themselves with segregationist politicians and policies?
I have documented instances of well-known sg names appearing with loud and proud segregationists well into the mid-1970s (h/t, DA). But after that, overt supremacism seems to trail off. I’ve always assumed this was the delayed effect of Civil Rights legislation trickling down culturally into ordinary every day life, where it was becoming by the 1970s at least potentially unpalatable to publicly espouse supremacist views in polite society. But I’d be curious to hear the general consensus (if there is one), esp from anyone who was there for this stuff.Email this Post