great migration panel 52

The story of the struggle for black rights in America is intimately linked to the story of popular music. And from Ferguson to Charleston, every recent conflict, confrontation and tragedy has brought to mind a particular song. So, here is a collection of 12 songs that have acted as the soundtrack to the black struggle in America over the past century. It is largely chronological and reflects the shifts both in the struggle and in the music (as well as my own personal preferences). Trying to compress a century of music into 12 tracks is, of course, both a difficult and a dubious project, but it gives, I think, a sense of what has changed over the century – and what has not.

The images are from Jacob Lawrence’s Great Migration series. I have discussed Lawrence’s work, and published all 60 panels, in a series of posts earlier this year:…

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