Church Bans Rock Music

Church Bans Rock Music

Chuck Higgins and his Orchestra, Pachuko Hop

Ban Rock and Roll

Church bans Rock music

Change in the weather

1950s teenagers, living in their increasingly industrialized world, learned that society had postponed adulthood. Education routinely extended beyond grammar school into high school and often to college.

20th century technology had already provided Americans young and old with the ability to do new things (like travel in a car), see new things (in the movies), and hear new things (listening to recordings). Sometimes they did all three at once.

Church bans Rock music

After World War II, the ever growing Boomer generation discovered and turned their radio dials to stations that played bebop and something called rock and roll. It had been called “race music” because rock and roll springs from the roots of the segregated Jim Crow culture of American Blacks. The music’s gut bucket emotion, honesty, and driving sound attracted many teenagers looking for something exciting to fill in those “tween” years. It also distinguished thems from their parents. That wish is as old as humanity.

As rock and roll became more popular, the Establishment found more reasons to try to slow or stop its spread.

Church bans Rock music

Cardinal Stritch

On March 3, 1957, Samuel Cardinal Stritch banned rock and roll from Chicago archdiocese Roman Catholic schools. He said, “Some new manners of dancing and a throwback to tribalism in recreation cannot be tolerated for Catholic youths. When our schools and centers stoop to such things as ‘rock and roll’ tribal rhythms, they are failing seriously in their duty. God grant that this word will have the effect of banning such things in Catholic recreation.”

Church bans Rock music

Church bans Rock music

Racist-based

Of course the subtle (and sometimes not-so-subtle) view behind such bans was racism. The presumed inferiority and moral bankruptcy of Black Americans meant anything having to do with them was also inferior and immoral. Or dangerous.

On June 3 that same year, Santa Cruz, California city authorities announced a total ban on rock and roll at public gatherings, calling the music “Detrimental to both the health and morals of our youth and community.

Why? The night before Chuck Higgins and his Orchestra had played. When Santa Cruz police entered the auditorium,  according to Lieutenant Richard Overton, there was a crowd “engaged in suggestive, stimulating and tantalizing motions induced by the provocative rhythms of an all-negro band.”

Two weeks later in its June 18, 1956 issue, Time magazine reported on similar bans recently enacted in Asbury Park, New Jersey, and in San Antonio, Texas, where the city council’s fear of “undesirable elements.

We can cynically explain how rock succeeded when faced by such bans (there are many other examples) by the fact that rock made money. More and more money. And while censorship of lyrics has relaxed, there are still complaints today when musicians perform music.

Church bans Rock music
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Civil Rights Activist Claudette Colvin

Civil Rights Activist Claudette Colvin

In February 2017, the City of Montgomery, Alabama passed a proclamation  naming March 2 “Claudette Colvin Day.”

Civil Rights Activist Claudette Colvin
A teenage Claudette Colvin refused to give up her bus seat to a white passenger during the segregation era in Montgomery, Ala. (Courtesy of Claudette Colvin)
Civil Rights Activist Claudette Colvin

15-year-old student

On March 2, 1955, Claudette Colvin was a 15-year-old student at Booker T. Washington High School in Montgomery, Alabama. Her family did not own a car, so she used buses to get back and forth to school.  Annie Larkins Price was a friend.

On their way home from school together that March day,  Price recalled, “The bus was getting crowded and I remember him (the bus driver) looking through the rear view mirror asking her to get up out of her seat, which she didn’t. She didn’t say anything. She just continued looking out the window. She decided on that day that she wasn’t going to move.

Other black passengers complied; Colvin ignored the driver. 

Civil Rights Activist Claudette Colvin

Police summoned

I’d moved for white people before,” Colvin says. But this time, she was thinking of the slavery fighters she had read about recently during Negro History Week in February. “The spirit of Harriet Tubman and Sojourner Truth was in me. I didn’t get up.”  “They dragged her off that bus,” said Price, who was sitting behind her classmate. “The rest of us stayed quiet. People were too scared to say anything.” Colvin screamed that her Constitutional rights were being violated. (Colvin arrest report)

We all know the name of Rosa Parks who also defied the Jim Crow laws separating Blacks and Whites throughout the United States. The Courts called it Separate but equal. We know Parks for her refusal to give up her seat and the resulting 381-day Montgomery bus boycott that followed under the leadership of the young Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.

That was nine months later on December 1, 1955.

Civil Rights Activist Claudette Colvin

Browder v Gayle

In the meantime, court had ruled against Colvin and put her on probation.  She became one of the plaintiffs in the Browder v. Gayle case, along with Aurelia S. Browder, Susie McDonald, and Mary Louise Smith (Jeanatta Reese, who was initially named a plaintiff in the case, withdrew early on due to outside pressure).

On June 13, 1956, the federal court ruled that Montgomery’s segregated bus system was unconstitutional. In December 1956, the city of Montgomery passed an ordinance allowing any bus passenger to sit in any seat they chose to.

Two years later, Colvin moved to New York City, where she worked as a nurse’s aide at a Manhattan nursing home. She retired in 2004.

Civil Rights Activist Claudette Colvin
In a 2013 interview…

Colvin stated, “I tell—one of the questions asks, “Why didn’t you get up when the bus driver asked you, and the policemen?” I say, “I could not move, because history had me glued to the seat.” And they say, “How is that?” I say, “Because it felt like Sojourner Truth’s hands were pushing me down on one shoulder and Harriet Tubman’s hands were pushing me down on another shoulder, and I could not move. And I yelled out, ’It’s my constitutional rights,’” because I wasn’t breaking a law under the state’s law, separate but equal; I was sitting in the area that was reserved for black passengers.

At that time, we didn’t even want to be called “black,” because black had a negative connotation. We were called “coloreds.” So I was sitting in the coloreds’ section. But because of Jim Crow law, the bus driver had police force, he could ask you to get up. And the problem was that the white woman that was standing near me, she wasn’t an elderly white woman. She was a young white woman. She had a whole seat to sit down by—opposite me, in the opposite row, but she refused to sit down; because of Jim Crow laws, a white person couldn’t sit opposite a colored person. And a white person had to sit in front of you.

The purpose was to make white people feel superior and colored people feel inferior”.


Civil Rights Activist Claudette Colvin

Book

In 2009, Farrar, Straus and Giroux published Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice by Phillip Hoose. Here is a link to an excerpt from that book: NPR story

Civil Rights Activist Claudette Colvin

From Twice Toward Jusice, here is Colvin’s description of the police who came onto the bus that March 2 day:

One of them said to the driver in a very angry tone, “Who is it?” The motorman pointed at me. I heard him say, “That’s nothing new . . . I’ve had trouble with that ‘thing’ before.” He called me a “thing.” They came to me and stood over me and one said, “Aren’t you going to get up?” I said, “No, sir.” He shouted “Get up” again. I started crying, but I felt even more defiant. I kept saying over and over, in my high-pitched voice, “It’s my constitutional right to sit here as much as that lady. I paid my fare, it’s my constitutional right!” I knew I was talking back to a white policeman, but I had had enough.

One cop grabbed one of my hands and his partner grabbed the other and they pulled me straight up out of my seat. My books went flying everywhere. I went limp as a baby—I was too smart to fight back. They started dragging me backwards off the bus. One of them kicked me. I might have scratched one of them because I had long nails, but I sure didn’t fight back. I kept screaming over and over, “It’s my constitutional right!” I wasn’t shouting anything profane—I never swore, not then, not ever. I was shouting out my rights.

In September 2016, the National Museum of African-American History and Culture opened to great fanfare. Colvin  was not invited to the opening dedication and the Museum did not recognize her act of bravery.

Civil Rights Activist Claudette Colvin
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Who Roger Daltrey CBE

Who Roger Daltrey CBE

Happy birthday

March 1,  1944
Who Roger Harry Daltrey CBE

Who Founded Who?

In a sense, Roger Daltrey founded the Who.  It was he who recruited  John Entwistle in 1961 to form a band.  It was Entwistles suggestion to ask Pete Townshend to join the new band, the Detours.


Who Roger Daltrey CBE

Early on…

Daltrey’s daytime job was in a sheet metal factory, even making the band’s guitars. Interesting, since Pete’s later smashing of his guitars obviously required wooden ones.

The young band went through the usual young band growing pains adding members, firing others, changing its name to The Who, then changing it to The High Numbers, before changing it back to the Who in November 1964.

By that time, Pete Townshend was the leader of the band because of his ability to compose songs, but Roger Daltrey became the front man to sing Townshend’s songs. The famous swirling mic became Daltry’s signature.

Who Roger Daltrey CBE

1965 Who released

On December 3, 1965, the Who released their first album, “My Generation.”

Who Roger Harry Daltrey CBE
My Generation album cover
Who Roger Daltrey CBE

1967 breakout

1967 was a break-out year in the US where they appeared for the first time. One of their performance was well-timed. On June 18 they appeared at the Monterey International Pop Music Festival and were included on both its movie and soundtrack album.

Having said that, during a July – August tour that year, they opened for Herman’s Hermits.

In 1968 they began to headline and in 1969 Pete Townshends “Tommy” with Roger Daltrey embodying the character on stage, put them among the elite of rock groups.

Who Roger Daltrey CBE

Who Woodstock

Invited to perform at Woodstock, the band wasn’t certain whether to, but finally did. Like Monterey, it became a huge piece of that famous festival.

The Who’s Woodstock encore: My Generation

Who Roger Daltrey CBE

Roger Daltrey

Like many groups, members began to release solo albums, and Daltry released his first, Daltrey,  in 1973.  He has released eight solo albums, but others in collaboration as well as a children album, The Wheels on the Bus.

The Who continued, sometimes sporadically,  despite the death of Keith Moon in 1978 and John Entwistle in 2002.

The Who were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990.

Who Roger Daltrey CBE

Teenage Cancer Trust

Since 2000 he has been a patron of the Teenage Cancer Trust, a charity that builds specialized wards for teenagers with cancer in the UK and in   November 2010, Roger and Pete Townshend launched Teen Cancer America.

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