Required reading and viewing
Week 13. “Woke Up This Morning with My Mind Stayed on Freedom”: Protest Culture of the 60s
Week 13. “You Make Me Feel Like a Natural Woman”: Movement Women
- *Class Playlist [Below]
- Steinem, Gloria, My Life on the Road (2016) is our primary text this week
- Musical number: *Ann Margaret, “How Lovely to be a Woman” from Bye Bye Birdie (1960) compare this representation to Gloria Steinem’s text
- *Hayden, Casey and King, Mary, “Sex and Caste: A Kind of Memo” (1965) [Text at bottom of page]
- Amiri Baraka, Dutchman (1964) [Filmed theatrical production below].
- Recommended: I highly recommend the film “What Happened, Miss Simone?” available on Netflix or the film “I Am Not Your Negro” about James Baldwin for a more intersectional perspective on culture in the 60s
- After reading Steinem’s book, what do you feel the relationship is between popular culture and movement culture in the United States? What experiences did someone like Casey Hayden, Mary King, Nina Simone, or Fannie Lou Hammer have when compared to Gloria Steinem? What did they have in common and where did they diverge in their activism? How did they use culture or get used by movement culture themselves?
- What are stereotypes from American racial history and popular culture used in Dutchman?
- What are the primary concerns voiced in “Sex and Caste: A Kind of Memo”?
- After listening to the songs below, what differences and similarities do you notice between the Civil Rights songs coming out of the gospel tradition and Negro Spiritual tradition versus newly produced commercial songs?
- After reading My Life on the Road, is car culture a part of American popular culture? What does looking at physical movement and travel add to our understanding of movement culture? What new forms of popular culture are represented in this book?
- What roles do different generations play in both the Civil Rights and Women’s Rights movement as represented in this week’s readings?
- What constitutes a movement? Leaders? The people? And what part does popular culture play in movements?
This Week’s Mini Assignment
- Gloria Steinem advocates for The Conversation. Select one of the instances she uses in the book and reflect on it. Then, reflect on how we can apply The Conversation to the internet age. Does it work? Is it a transferrable model? What could we do to improve it? Or is this outmoded and not applicable?
- Your 1-page proposal is due via e-mail May 1.
Civil Rights Protest Culture & Black Arts Movement
Dutchman (written for the stage in 1964 and adapted into a film in 1967, one year before Loving v. Virginia legalized interracial marriage). Here is a PDF of the play’s text if you would like to read along as you watch.
Gospel Civil Rights Songs
Fannie Lou Hamer, an African American woman from Mississippi, worked as a sharecropper before becoming a civil rights activist. She was also known as a forceful gospel singer who lead marches and prayer meetings with her inspiring and distinctive voice. When she learned about her right to vote from SNCC activists, Hamer attempted to register to vote, but encountered resistance and persecution for her efforts from local whites. Hamer eventually registered to vote and became an activist. She helped organize Mississippi Freedom Summer, an effort to register African Americans in Mississippi to vote, and when the state’s Democratic Party refused to desegregate its delegation to the Democratic Convention, Hamer co-founded the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party. She went to the convention, challenging the Democratic Party to enforce integration in the southern branches of the party, and testifying to the brutality she had endured in Mississippi.
Commercial Civil Rights Songs Used in Protest
Joan Baez cover of “We Shall Over Come” (Live, 1963). For more on the history and use of this song (often described as the Civil Rights anthem) check out this NPR feature “The Inspiring Force of ‘We Shall Overcome.‘”
Bob Dylan, “Blowin’ In the Wind” (Live, 1963)
Nina Simone, “Mississippi Goddamn” (Live, 1964)
When you listen to this Aretha Franklin’s cover of “People Get Ready” (a song originally released by Curtis Mayfield and the Impressions) think about how it evokes both traditional Negro Spirituals and train imagery from the Great Migration to recruit listeners into the Movement of the 1960s.
The Freedom Singers, a group of African American singers, began as a student quartet, but became the singing branch of SNCC – the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee, one of the major Civil Rights groups of the 60s. The Freedom Singers toured the country, helping to popularize the movement’s ideals. Here, one of the Freedom Singers discusses the role of music in the movement.
The Folk Revival
The folk revival of the 1960s (roughly 1958-65) frequently engaged with the movements of the era. Anti-nuclear, civil rights, antiwar, and environmental concerns were all represented in the song-writing of these years. Major songwriters whose writing evinced concerns with politics and social movements included Pete Seeger, Malvina Reynolds, Bob Dylan, and Phil Ochs. For more, listen to the playlist prepared by Sarah King for your listening pleasure.
Black Power, Muhammad Ali, & Nina Simone Interviews
Anti-Vietnam Protest Culture
Please check out this Spotify Playlist curated by Sarah King on Vietnam Protest Music.
Phil Ochs, “I Ain’t Marchin Anymore”
Women’s Liberation Protest Culture
Ann Margaret sings “How Lovely to Be a Woman” in the film adaptation of Bye Bye Birdie representing womanhood in the 1960s before the movement.
During the Women’s Rights Movement, many love songs were used in the context of marches to describe gender relations beyond the context of romantic relationships.
Emma Watson selected Gloria Steinem’s My Life on the Road as her first book club read. Here they sit down together and talk about its contemporary implications.
Stark Trek & Civil Rights
Television Programming Radicalizes
“What Does Assassination Mean?”
In the wake of the assassinations of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Senator Robert Kennedy during the Spring of 1968, Mr. Rogers produced a television special for children addressing political assassination. The extended clip can be found here.
Nina Simone, “Why the King of Love is Dead”
Comedian “Moms Mabley” performed “Abraham, Martin, and John” on Playboy After Dark in 1970.
Sex and Caste: A Kind of Memo
Casey Hayden and Mary King circulated this paper on women in the civil rights movement based on their experiences as Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee volunteers. It is widely regarded as one of the first documents of the emerging women’s liberation movement.
Sex and Caste: A Kind of Memo from Casey Hayden and Mary King to a number of other women in the peace and freedom movements by Casey Hayden and Mary King, 1965.
We’ve talked a lot, to each other and to some of you, about our own and other women’s problems in trying to live in our personal lives and in our work as independent and creative people. In these conversations we’ve found what seem to be recurrent ideas or themes. Maybe we can look at these things many of us perceive, often as a result of insights learned from the movement:
Sex and caste: There seem to be many parallels that can be drawn between treatment of Negroes and treatment of women in our society as a whole. But in particular, women we’ve talked to who work in the movement seem to be caught up in a common-law caste system that operates, sometimes subtly, forcing them to work around or outside hierarchical structures of power which may exclude them. Women seem to be placed in the same position of assumed subordination in personal situations too. It is a caste system which, at its worst, uses and exploits women.
This is complicated by several facts, among them:
- The caste system is not institutionalized by law (women have the right to vote, to sue for divorce, etc.);
- Women can’t withdraw from the situation (a la nationalism) or overthrow it;
- There are biological differences (even though those biological differences are usually discussed or accepted without taking present and future technology into account so we probably can’t be sure what these differences mean). Many people who are very hip to the implications of the racial caste system, even people in the movement, don’t seem to be able to see the sexual caste system and if the question is raised they respond with: “That’s the way it’s supposed to be. There are biological differences.” Or with other statements which recall a white segregationist confronted with integration.
Women and problems of work: The caste system perspective dictates the roles assigned to women in the movement, and certainly even more to women outside the movement. Within the movement, questions arise in situations ranging from relationships of women organizers to men in the community, to who cleans the freedom house, to who holds leadership positions, to who does secretarial work, and who acts as spokesman for groups. Other problems arise between women with varying degrees of awareness of themselves as being as capable as men but held back from full participation, or between women who see themselves as needing more control of their work than other women demand. And there are problems with relationships between white women and black women.
Women and personal relations with men: Having learned from the movement to think radically about the personal worth and abilities of people whose role in society had gone unchallenged before, a lot of women in the movement have begun trying to apply those lessons to their own relations with men. Each of us probably has her own story of the various results, and of the internal struggle occasioned by trying to break out of very deeply learned fears, needs, and self? perceptions, and of what happens when we try to replace them with concepts of people and freedom learned from the movement and organizing.
Institutions: Nearly everyone has real questions about those institutions which shape perspectives on men and women: marriage, child rearing pat-terns, women’s (and men’s) magazines, etc. People are beginning to think about and even to experiment with new forms in these areas.
Men’s reactions to the questions raised here: A very few men seem to feel, when they hear conversations involving these problems, that they have a right to be present and participate in them, since they are so deeply involved. At the same time, very few men can respond non-defensively, since the whole idea is either beyond their comprehension or threatens and exposes them. The usual response is laughter. That inability to see the whole issue as serious, as the straitjacketing of both sexes, and as societally determined often shapes our own response so that we learn to think in their terms about ourselves and to feel silly rather than trust our inner feelings. The problems we’re listing here, and what others have said about them, are therefore largely drawn from conversations among women only and that difficulty in establishing dialogue with men is a recurring theme among people we’ve talked to.
Lack of community for discussion: Nobody is writing, or organizing or talking publicly about women, in any way that reflects the problems that various women in the movement come across and which we’ve tried to touch above. Consider this quote from an article in the centennial issue of The Nation:
However equally we consider men and women, the work plans for husbands and wives cannot be given equal weight. A woman should not aim for “a second-level career” because she is a woman; from girlhood on she should recognize that, if she is also going to be a wife and mother, she will not be able to give as much to her work as she would if single. That is, she should not feel that she cannot aspire to directing the laboratory simply because she is a woman, but rather because she is also a wife and mother; as such, her work as a lab technician (or the equivalent in another field) should bring both satisfaction and the knowledge that, through it, she is fulfilling an additional role, making an additional contribution.
And that’s about as deep as the analysis goes publicly, which is not nearly so deep as we’ve heard many of you go in chance conversations.
The reason we want to try to open up dialogue is mostly subjective. Working in the movement often intensifies personal problems, especially if we start trying to apply things we’re learning there to our personal lives. Perhaps we can start to talk with each other more openly than in the past and create a community of support for each other so we can deal with ourselves and others with integrity and can therefore keep working.
Objectively, the chances seem nil that we could start a movement based on anything as distant to general American thought as a sex caste system. Therefore, most of us will probably want to work full time on problems such as war, poverty, race. The very fact that the country can’t face, much less deal with, the questions we’re raising means that the movement is one place to look for some relief. Real efforts at dialogue within the movement and with whatever liberal groups, community women, or students might listen are justified. That is, all the problems between men and women and all the problems of women functioning in society as equal human beings are among the most basic that people face. We’ve talked in the movement about trying to build a society which would see basic human problems (which are now seen as private troubles), as public problems and would try to shape institutions to meet human needs rather than shaping people to meet the needs of those with power. To raise questions like those above illustrates very directly that society hasn’t dealt with some of its deepest problems and opens discussion of why that is so. (In one sense, it is a radicalizing question that can take people beyond legalistic solutions into areas of personal and institutional change.) The second objective reason we’d like to see discussion begin is that we’ve learned a great deal in the movement and perhaps this is one area where a determined attempt to apply ideas we’ve learned there can produce some new alternatives.
Note from Professor Barnes: Thank you to doctoral candidate Sarah King who submitted multimedia excerpts and helped curate Spotify playlists for this page.