“Breaking Barriers through Music: Albums from The Charles L. Blockson Collection of African Americana and the African Diaspora,” an exhibition, is on display March 17–June 30, 2014, in Sidewater Commons, 102 Pattee Library. “Music can create powerful connections between people, help us learn about different cultures, shatter stereotypes, question social injustices, and inspire us to create the world as it should be. Its purpose extends beyond entertainment to educate, inspire, represent people, influence and change society, and provide social commentary.” (from Teaching Tolerance, a project of the Southern Poverty Law Center)
The albums in this exhibit helped to change the way people viewed each other from the 1930s through the civil rights movement and into the decades that followed. Through music, poetry, rhetoric, and comedy, the albums allow the listener to appreciate and oftentimes experience viewpoints, different from their own.
“Negro Prison Songs,” recorded in work fields by Alan Lomax in the 1940s, tell the story of the slave gang, the sharecropper system, the lawless work camp, the chain gang, and the pen. Dick Gregory’s comedic album, “In White America,” changed the way white America perceived African-Americans through his satiric political messages on segregation. Read the full story on Penn State News