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Paper Session
Nov 12, 2021 11:00 AM - 11:50 AM(America/Chicago)
20211112T1100 20211112T1150 America/Chicago Segregated Voices: Oppression and Self-Determination in the Jim Crow Era

American musical institutions have historically been sites for the practice and enforcement of racial segregation and white supremacy. For several decades, scholars have highlighted these exclusionary practices in jazz and popular music contexts, and recent efforts to diversify music curricula have sought to undo the legacies of these racist acts. However, our proximity to the legislated Jim Crow era has meant that many histories of racial segregation in American musical culture have yet to be reckoned with, often because the perpetrators have purposefully buried their damning stories.

This session explores lesser-known case studies of the insidious ways that musical institutions excluded Black Americans in the twentieth century, and how Black musicians and their allies organized responses to racist practices. United through their emphasis on archival research, the three papers draw upon underutilized primary sources to nuance existing narratives of anti-Blackness during the Jim Crow era. Each paper focuses on a different type of musical institution: the first paper uncovers the history of racial exclusion in the Barbershop Harmony Society, an all-white fraternal organization. The second paper probes the white supremacist infrastructure behind the management of major concert halls in Washington, D.C. The third paper examines segregationist policies in professional organizations, which motivated the founding of The National Association of Negro Musicians. The session also highlights the self-determinist practices of Black musicians. In particular, the second and third papers use the lives of Marian Anderson and Florence Price, respectively, as lenses to showcase the uncompromising will of Black musicians to determine their own futures. Lastly, the papers ...

AMS 2021 ams@amsmusicology.org


American musical institutions have historically been sites for the practice and enforcement of racial segregation and white supremacy. For several decades, scholars have highlighted these exclusionary practices in jazz and popular music contexts, and recent efforts to diversify music curricula have sought to undo the legacies of these racist acts. However, our proximity to the legislated Jim Crow era has meant that many histories of racial segregation in American musical culture have yet to be reckoned with, often because the perpetrators have purposefully buried their damning stories.

This session explores lesser-known case studies of the insidious ways that musical institutions excluded Black Americans in the twentieth century, and how Black musicians and their allies organized responses to racist practices. United through their emphasis on archival research, the three papers draw upon underutilized primary sources to nuance existing narratives of anti-Blackness during the Jim Crow era. Each paper focuses on a different type of musical institution: the first paper uncovers the history of racial exclusion in the Barbershop Harmony Society, an all-white fraternal organization. The second paper probes the white supremacist infrastructure behind the management of major concert halls in Washington, D.C. The third paper examines segregationist policies in professional organizations, which motivated the founding of The National Association of Negro Musicians. The session also highlights the self-determinist practices of Black musicians. In particular, the second and third papers use the lives of Marian Anderson and Florence Price, respectively, as lenses to showcase the uncompromising will of Black musicians to determine their own futures. Lastly, the papers demonstrate the continued relevance of these overlooked histories, whether it be to advocate for a historical reckoning in our communities, or to assert the enduring importance of organized responses to structural racism.

The anti-Black racism of the Jim Crow era lingers in contemporary culture, from the AMS demographics to police brutality. As we strive to move toward antiracist practices following a summer of uprisings provoked by George Floyd's murder, this session offers a critical and necessary look at the past that will help the field acknowledge and address these oppressive legacies.


Florence Price & the Self-Determinist Mission of the National Association of Negro Musicians
Session 11:00 AM - 11:50 AM (America/Chicago) 2021/11/12 17:00:00 UTC - 2021/11/12 17:50:00 UTC

In c. 1917, the Arkansas Music Teachers Association declined a membership application from composer Florence B. Price. Their reasoning was simple: they did not accept Black members. But the National Association of Negro Musicians (NANM), founded in 1919, did; they were founded for the explicit purpose of supporting Black concert artists and cultivating a Black concert music tradition. As started in their organ from 1921, "…the musical art of the Negro, with scant hope of governmental succor, must look to…the national organization – for its fullest development."

Building upon Price and NANM scholarship (Brown, McGinty, Ege), this paper studies how the self-determinist practices of NANM were a key element of Price's professional successes (e.g. underwriting the Chicago Symphony's premiere of her Symphony in E minor). While Price joined NANM by 1920, it was upon her 1927 relocation to Chicago, fleeing the growing racial terrorism of Little Rock, Arkansas, that her NANM membership began to bear fruit. Major figures of Black Chicago's classical music scene (e.g. Maude Roberts George), old colleagues (e.g. Clarence Cameron White), and new collaborators (e.g. Marian Anderson), became core members of her professional network. I analyze NANM meeting minutes, founding materials, conference programs, and presidential addresses housed at the Center for Black Music Research to contextualize NANM's support of Price's composing career within Black self-determinist ideology and organizing of the twentieth century.

NANM rarely figures in discussions of self-determination; and yet self-sufficiency and collaboration were key features of the organization's operation. Through yearly conferences, competitions, and regional concerts, NANM members made opportunities for performers, composers, teachers, scholars, and administrators to practice their craft and build their networks. Though Price is one of the more popular NANM alumni, she was one of thousands who benefited from the creation of a nation-wide community of Black concert artists in the Jim Crow era. Studying this organization and its impact on Price's career offers an important perspective on segregation in classical music through Black musicians' strategic organized responses. 

Presenters
AH
A. Kori Hill
University Of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
Before the Lincoln Memorial: Marian Anderson, Roland Hayes, and the Infrastructure of Jim Crow in Washington, DC’s Concert Halls
Session 11:00 AM - 11:50 AM (America/Chicago) 2021/11/12 17:00:00 UTC - 2021/11/12 17:50:00 UTC

In 1939, the Daughters of the American Revolution infamously refused to rent Constitution Hall for a concert by the Black contralto Marian Anderson, igniting a protest that led to her performance at the Lincoln Memorial. That incident is re-examined here through fresh archival research, posing questions about the racial conditions for Black professional performers in DC that provoked the confrontation. What were the performance histories in DC of Anderson and another celebrated Black singer of the day, the tenor Roland Hayes? How did each of them navigate segregation before the Lincoln Memorial performance? What tactics did white concert managers employ to police race? Depending on geographic location and time period, Jim Crow segregation was a far greater force in U.S. concert life than is generally acknowledged. The digitization of Black newspapers and NAACP archives reveals details of how this shadowy system controlled so much for so long.

Reaching into the 1920s, I argue that Hayes and Anderson devised ever-shifting strategies in a search for performance facilities worthy of their talent and the size of their audiences. Both had strong support within DC's Black community, yet their approaches differed. Hayes, who was a decade older than Anderson, mostly performed in DC's major concert halls. He tried to work with local managers who were white segregationists and faced pressure from the DC branch of the NAACP. Anderson, meanwhile, had consistent backing from Howard University, which provided some protection from white racists. Initially, she performed in Howard's Rankin Chapel, and she was steadily presented through Howard's recital series. Yet as her fame grew, requiring larger performing spaces, she too collided with the intentionally unstable ground rules of Jim Crow. Both performers ultimately hit a wall as they struggled for equal access not only to Constitution Hall but also the white-owned Belasco Theater and Washington Auditorium. A central cast of adversaries and advocates steps forward, many new to histories of Anderson, Hayes, and Black performance of classical music in general. In the process, a vision emerges of the protracted civil rights battle that made DAR's rejection of Anderson so volatile.



Presenters
CO
Carol Oja
Harvard University
Barbershop Harmony, Racial Dissonance: The Case of "Project N"
Session 11:00 AM - 11:50 AM (America/Chicago) 2021/11/12 17:00:00 UTC - 2021/11/12 17:50:00 UTC

"We don't have to explain why we are eliminating the Negroes. We just eliminate them--period," wrote the President of Barbershop Harmony Society (BHS) in 1958. A Special Advisory Committee had been convened to figure out how to keep Black men out of the Society without putting such regulations in writing--an undertaking codenamed "Project N" (for "Negro"). Implementing explicitly anti-Black policies during the civil rights era would have risked criticism from integrationist members and civil rights organizations. However, the Committee was motivated by a greater fear that integration would result in "the destruction of the Society."

Due to secretive administrative processes, Project N and other programs of racial segregation are absent from Society publications and secondary literature. In this paper, I cite previously unexamined archival materials to redress this historical erasure, and offer the first account of the BHS's segregationist practices from its founding in 1938 to its reluctant integration in 1963. First, I argue that beyond the goal of creating a fraternal space for white men, the Society was particularly invested in excluding Black men in order to repudiate the barbershop style's roots in genres associated with Black Americans (Averill 2003). This is corroborated by a double standard that arose during the 1950s: while Society bylaws stated that only white men could join, in practice some non-Black men of color were being granted membership. I then show how this inconsistency necessitated the creation of Project N, an endeavor that ultimately failed to prevent integration, but nonetheless remained formative to racialized conceptions of the barbershop style.

I conclude by discussing the potential for a historical reckoning within the BHS. In 2017, the Society announced its "Everyone in Harmony" initiative, and declared to "unequivocally turn away from any cultural vestiges of exclusion." Yet Society leaders and members are largely ignorant of the troubled history of segregationist practices such as Project N and this history's impact on their musical practices. Ultimately, my paper contributes to recent movements within musicology by arguing that institutions cannot make good on their proclaimed ethical commitments without accepting changes to their core values and aesthetic ideologies.

Presenters
CB
Clifton Boyd
Yale University
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
Harvard University
Yale University
Miami University
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