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This monthly podcast looks back at the pop culture of Generation X, from an African-American perspective.

Jul 1, 2018

Topics: The Black Church, Jessie Jackson, Marvin Gaye, Aretha Franklin, Shaft, & Soul Train. (Bonus Artist: Luck Pacheco)


1971 Overview

1.    Richard Nixon still President
2.    Vietnam War still going: (year 16 of 19)
3.    Deaths: 2,357 of 58,318 total
4.    Congressional Black Caucus created
5.    Soledad Brothers (California) and Attica (New York) prison riots
6.    The Supreme Court rules unanimously that busing of students may be ordered to achieve racial desegregation.
7.    Maya Angelou’s, Gwendolyn Brooks, and Nikki Giovanni all publish books
8.    Beverly Johnson is the first black woman to appear on the cover of a major fashion magazine (Glamour).
9.    QUESTION: Because schools are socializing and educational institutions, did busing “undercut” black identity and intellect or help us get along better in a diverse world and learn more?

Jesse Louis Jackson Sr.: Civil rights activist, Baptist minister, and politician from Greenville, South Carolina, U.S.
10.    Breakout Year: The "Black Expo" in Chicago, attend by 800,000+, to encourage black business and he organizes People United to Save Humanity (P.U.S.H.)
11.    FYI: Graduate from University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
12.    Started working for Martin Luther King Jr. in 1965
13.    Jackson participated in the Selma to Montgomery marches.
14.    Became known for commanding public attention since he first started with MLK.
15.    MLK was impressed by JJ’s drive and organizational abilities but was also concerned about his ambition and attention-seeking.
16.    1971 he grabs the MLK legacy and becomes the de facto face of the “Black Church”.
17.    QUESTION: I appreciate Jessie, but why don’t I trust him?

The Black Church: Always in the Mix. (JJ 
18.    The phrase "black church" refers to Protestant churches that minister to predominantly black congregations.
19.    Segregationist discouraged and often prevented blacks from worshiping with whites. 
20.    This created culturally distinct communities and worship practices that incorporated African spiritual traditions.
21.    Gradually, slaves developed their own interpretations of the Scriptures. Finding inspiration in stories of oppression and deliverance like Moses vs. Pharaoh.
22.    Question: First image that comes to mind?

23.    Key event: Philadelphia, PA 1787 – Birth of the “Black Church”: Richard Allen founded the Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME). The first fully independent black denomination.
24.    The AME church put a high premium on education, tended to attract the middle class, and produce black leadership.
25.    After the Civil War, "Baptists" grew rapidly, due primarily to a more independent governing structure.
26.    Baptist churches are governed locally, by the congregation.
27.    Major Difference Between Methodist and Baptist: The Method of Baptism [Pentecostals require additional reading]
28.    Who: Methodists baptize infants. Baptists only baptizes those capable of understanding.
29.    How: Methodists baptize with immersion, sprinkling, and pouring. Baptists only with immersion.
30.    Question: Any special memories about you or someone else being baptized?

The Civil Rights Period: The Baptist “Come Up”
31.    Black churches were the heart and soul: acting as information hubs and centers of solidarity, while also providing leadership, organizational manpower, and moral guidance during this period.
32.    Notable minister-activists: Martin Luther King, Jr. - Baptists (Atlanta, GA), Ralph David Abernathy - Baptist (Linden, AL), Bernard Lee - Baptist (Norfolk, VA), Fred Shuttlesworth - Baptist (Mount Meigs, AL), Wyatt Tee Walker - Baptists (Brockton, MA), C. T. Vivian - Baptist (Boonville, MO) *Obama awarded him The P.M.o.H. in 2013. 

33.    Main features: African ritual, slave emotionalism, and speaking/story-telling eloquence. 
34.    Services: devotional prayer, singing by the congregation and choir, and the minister's sermon.
35.    Many ministers use drama, poetry, and the "call and response" tradition to connect with and energize the congregation.
Question: Have you ever visited a “white” church and felt the difference?

Politics and social issues
36.    Tendency to focus more on social issues. (poverty, gang violence, drug use, prison ministries, racism, etc.)
37.    Generally, more socially conservative [i.e., same-sex marriage, LGBT issues, women's rights, etc.]

Present Day: Quick facts (Pew Research Center’s 2014 Religious Landscape Study)
38.    Roughly eight-in-ten (79%) Blacks self-identify as Christian. 
39.    The share of African Americans who identify as religiously “unaffiliated” has increased in recent years, mirroring national trends.
40.    This shift may help explain the popularity of non-church led activism, such as Black Lives Matter,

Contributions of the Black Church
41.    The church has housed and fed the poor, assisted with psychologically negative and destructive habits, helped others overcome social and economic oppression, provided leadership development, supported the black family structure, acted as a social network and liaison for businesses, educated youths and adults, mentored "at risk" youth, provided job development skills, offered scholarships, built recreation centers, provided prison aftercare and drug prevention programs, and many other things.
42.    Functioned as a primary repository for "Black Culture", housing much of our history and traditions.

43.    Historically, the Black Church has been a major agent for socioeconomic and religious empowerment since the post-slavery era.
44.    It has acted as a reliable ally and sanctuary to the black community.
Question: Will the Black Church be as vital to the next generation?

45.    Unemployment Rate = 5.8% / Minimum Wage = $1.60, up .15c ($64w, $3,200y, ~$19,800 in 2018)

46.    Top Singles for the entire year of 1971 (Source:
(*) = Black Artists / (it took 40 songs to get 10 black artists)
-1    Three Dog Night: Joy To The World
-2    Rod Stewart: Maggie May / (Find A) Reason To Believe
-3    Carole King: It’s Too Late / I Feel The Earth Move
-4    Osmonds: One Bad Apple
-5    Bee Gees: How Can You Mend A Broken Heart
-6    Raiders: Indian Reservation
-7    Donny Osmond: Go Away Little Girl
-8    John Denver: Take Me Home, Country Roads
-9(1)    Temptations: Just My Imagination (Running Away With Me)
-10    Dawn: Knock Three Times
-11    Janis Joplin: Me And Bobby McGee
-12(2)    Al Green: Tired Of Being Alone
-13(3)    Honey Cone: Want Ads
-14(4)    Undisputed Truth: Smiling Faces Sometimes
-15(5)    Cornelius Brothers and Sister Rose: Treat Her Like A Lady
-16    James Taylor: You’ve Got A Friend
-17(6)    Jean Knight: Mr. Big Stuff
-18    Rolling Stones: Brown Sugar
-19    Lee Michaels: Do You Know What I Mean
-20    Joan Baez: The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down
-21(7)    Marvin Gaye: What’s Going On
-22    Paul and Linda McCartney: Uncle Albert-Admiral Halsey
-23(8)    Bill Withers: Ain’t No Sunshine
-24    Five Man Electrical Band: Signs
-25    Tom Jones: She’s A Lady
-26    Murray Head and The Trinidad Singers: Superstar
-27(9)    Free Movement: I Found Someone Of My Own
-28    Jerry Reed: Amos Moses
-29    Grass Roots: Temptation Eyes
-30    Carpenters: Superstar
-31    George Harrison: My Sweet Lord / Isn’t It A Pity
-32    Donny Osmond: Sweet And Innocent
-33    Ocean: Put Your Hand In The Hand
-34    Daddy Dewdrop: Chick-a-boom
-35    Carpenters: For All We Know
-36    Sammi Smith: Help Me Make It Through The Night
-37    Carpenters: Rainy Days And Mondays
-38    Gordon Lightfoot: If You Could Read My Mind
-40(10)    Jackson 5: Never Can Say Goodbye
47.    Question: Best Single?

Top Albums

48.    Jan - ...To Be Continued, Isaac Hayes
49.    Feb - Curtis, Curtis Mayfield
50.    Apr - Live in Cook County Jail, B.B. King
51.    May - Maybe Tomorrow, The Jackson 5
52.    Jun - Aretha Live at Fillmore West, Aretha Franklin
53.    Jul - What's Going On, Marvin Gaye
54.    Jul - Shaft    Soundtrack, Isaac Hayes
55.    Question: Best album?

Key Artists
56.    Marvin Gaye: American singer, songwriter and record producer. Gaye helped to shape the sound of Motown in the 1960s, first as an in-house session player and later as a solo artist with a string of hits, including "Ain't That Peculiar", "How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You)" and "I Heard It Through the Grapevine", and duet recordings with Mary WellsKim WestonDiana Rossand Tammi Terrell, later earning the titles "Prince of Motown" and "Prince of Soul".
57.    During the 1970s, he recorded the albums What's Going On and Let's Get It On and became one of the first artists in Motown (joint with Stevie Wonder) to break away from the reins of a production company. His later recordings influenced several contemporary R&B subgenres, such as quiet storm and neo soul. Following a period in Europe as a tax exile in the early 1980s, he released the 1982 Grammy Award-winning hit "Sexual Healing" and its parent album Midnight Love.

58.    Aretha Louise Franklin: American singer and songwriter. Franklin began her career as a child singing gospel at New Bethel Baptist Church in Detroit, where her father, C. L. Franklin, was minister. In 1960, at the age of 18, she embarked on a secular career.
59.    In 1967, Franklin achieved commercial acclaim and success with songs such as "Respect", "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman", "Spanish Harlem" and "Think".
60.    By the end of the 1960s decade she had gained the title "The Queen of Soul". 
61.    Franklin eventually became the most charted female artist in the history.

62.    Franklin has won a total of 18 Grammy Awards and is one of the best-selling musical artists of all time, having sold over 75 million records worldwide. Franklin has been honored throughout her career including a 1987 induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, in which she became the first female performer to be inducted. She was inducted to the UK Music Hall of Fame in 2005. In August 2012, Franklin was inducted into the GMA Gospel Music Hall of Fame. Franklin is listed in at least two all-time lists on Rolling Stone magazine, including the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time; and the 100 Greatest Singers of All Time.

African-American Cinema
63.    Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song is a 1971 American independent action thriller film written, co-produced, scored, edited, directed by and starring Melvin Van Peebles. His son Mario Van Peebles also appears in a small role, playing the title character as a young boy. It tells the picaresque story of a poor black man on his flight from the white authority.
64.    Van Peebles began to develop the film after being offered a three-picture contract for Columbia Pictures. No studio would finance the film, so Van Peebles funded the film himself, shooting it independently over a period of 19 days, performing all of his own stunts and appearing in several sex scenes, reportedly unsimulated. He received a $50,000 loan from Bill Cosby to complete the project. The film's fast-paced montages and jump-cuts were unique features in American cinema at the time. The picture was censored in some markets and received mixed critical reviews. However, it has left a lasting impression on African-American cinema.
65.    The musical score of Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song was performed by Earth, Wind & Fire. Van Peebles did not have any money for traditional advertising methods, so he released the soundtrack album prior to the film's release to generate publicity. Huey P. Newton celebrated and welcomed the film's revolutionary implications, and Sweetback became required viewing for members of the Black Panther Party. According to Variety, it demonstrated to Hollywood that films which portrayed "militant" blacks could be highly profitable, leading to the creation of the blaxploitation genre, although critic Roger Ebert did not consider this example of Van Peebles' work to be an exploitation film.
66.    Release date: April 23, 1971 / Budget: $150k (~920k today) / Gross: $4.1m (~25m today)

67.    Shaft is a 1971 American blaxploitation action-crime film directed by Gordon Parks and written by Ernest Tidyman and John D. F. Black. The film revolves around a private detective named John Shaft who is hired by a Harlem mobster to rescue his daughter from the Italian mobsters who kidnapped her. The film stars Richard Roundtree as John Shaft, Moses Gunn as Bumpy Jonas, Charles Cioffi as Vic Androzzi, and Christopher St. John as Ben Buford. The major themes present in Shaft are the Black Power movement, race, masculinity, and sexuality. It was filmed within the New York City borough of Manhattan, specifically in Harlem, Greenwich Village, and Times Square.
68.    Shaft was one of the first blaxploitation films, and one of the most popular, which "marked a turning point for this type of film and spawned a number of sequels and knockoffs." The Shaft soundtrack album, recorded by Isaac Hayes, was also a success, winning a Grammy Award for Best Score Soundtrack Album for a Motion Picture; and a second Grammy that he shared with Johnny Allen for Grammy Award for Best Instrumental Arrangement; Grammy Award for Best Original Score; the "Theme from Shaft" won the Academy Award for Best Original Song and has appeared on multiple Top 100 lists, including AFI's 100 Years...100 Songs. Widely considered a prime example of the blaxploitation genre. Shaft was selected in 2000 for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress for being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant."
69.    Release date: July 2, 1971 / Budget: 500k (~3m today) / Gross: $13m (~80m today)
70.    The film was one of only three profitable movies that year for MGM, 
71.    It not only spawned several years of "blaxploitation" action films, it earned enough money to save then-struggling MGM from bankruptcy

72.    Soul Train is an American music-dance television program which aired in syndication from October 2, 1971 to March 27, 2006. In its 35-year history, the show primarily featured performances by R&B, soul, dance/pop and hip-hop artists, although funk, jazz, disco and gospel artists also appeared. The series was created by Don Cornelius, who also served as its first host and executive producer.
73.    Some commentators have called Soul Train a "black American Bandstand,"
74.    Cornelius acknowledged Bandstand as a model for his program, but he tended to bristle at the Bandstand comparisons.
75.    Cornelius, with help from Jesse Jackson, openly accused Dick Clark of trying to undermine TV's only Black-owned show, when Clark launched "Soul Unlimited".
76.    Cornelius was relatively conservative in his musical tastes and was admittedly not a fan of the emerging hip hop genre, believing that the genre did not reflect positively on African-American culture (one of his stated goals for the series).
77.    Rosie Perez testified in the 2010 VH1 documentary Soul Train: The Hippest Trip in America that Cornelius also disliked seeing the show's dancers perform sexually suggestive "East Coast" dance moves.
78.     This disconnect (which was openly mocked in an In-Living Color sketch where Cornelius and the show were lampooned as extremely old and out of touch) eventually led to Cornelius's stepping down as host in the early 1990s and the show's losing its influence.

Black Church Sources: [2016]