The Debate Within: White Backlash, the New Thing, and Economics


in Freedom Sounds

Published in print December 2007 | ISBN: 9780195128253
Published online January 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780199864492 | DOI:
                   The Debate Within: White Backlash, the New Thing, and Economics

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One of the most notable differences between the Down Beat of the 1950s and that of the 1960s is the amount of space devoted to public forums which aired intense and racially polarized debates on these themes. Although these events frequently climaxed with deep divides between black and white participants, secondary splits often occurred as well — between older and younger musicians, between white advocates of color blindness and white leftists sympathetic to black nationalism, and between those for whom merit was measured in relationship to musical standards of mainstream jazz, and those who advocated the unbounded experimentalism of the New Thing. This chapter analyzes two of these panel discussions — “Racial Prejudice in Jazz” (Down Beat, March 1962) and “Point of Contact” (Down Beat Music 1966) — not only for what they reveal about the racial discourse of the 1960s, but also for their ongoing relevance to debates about music and race in the 21st century.

Keywords: Down Beat; public forums; jazz musicians; political debates; black nationalism; race; prejudice; racial discourse

Chapter.  17937 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: American Music

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