|:: Description ::
||Alan Lomax interviewed in New York by Joel Stone of the Black History Radio Series, about the Black Encyclopedia of the Air, funded by the Ford Foundation. National Archives No. 306 VOA.ENZ-T-5137
|:: Project ::
||Black Encyclopedia of the Air
|:: Date Range ::
||05-20-1969 to 05-20-1969
|:: Particpants ::
|:: Subjects ::
|Song style, African - overlapping call-and-response|
|Civilization - origins in Egypt|
|Women's position in black culture in Africa and the Americas|
|Unified polyphonic singing in African culture|
|Black Encylopedia of the Air and black history and ethnography|
|Jean-Baptiste Point du Sable and the founding of Chicago|
|:: Cultures ::
|:: Holdings ::
|:: Notes ::
||The Black Encyclopedia of the Air intended to make up for omissions in school curricula by way of one-minute radio spots covering aspects of Black history and ethnography in the form of 28 basic ideas of Black History. Radio is a frequently used black medium and many radio stations have black ownership.
Joel Stone: How did the project come about?
Alan Lomax: A year ago, black citizens were very angry because they had been left out of the educational and communications system. To make up for this lack the Ford Foundation sponsored spot announcements about the beauty, antiquity, and accomplishments of the African heritage to be broadcast over 400 stations.
The material ranges over the whole of African history and pre-history, beginning with the Africans of Egypt and the colonization of most of Africa by the peoples of its West Coast and covers all the main cultural themes that make African culture distinctive. We hope that these broadcasts will make black Americans feel good.
Whites have too long held the center stage.
Alan Lomax explains that his data is based on a world survey of cultural styles carried out at Columbia University.
Sample on African call-and-response style with overlapping - the message (conveyed by the style): we stay close to our leader and support him. Example: a song by Ray Charles.
The unified clans and the term "brother."
Example of the highly unified, polyphonic African choruses.
Importance of "women power" in African society: It is an African cultural trait that women are always heard from; a historical example, the Queen of Angola and her female military guard.
Another little-known historical example of black influence in American society is the founding of Chicago in 1779 as a trading post by Jean Baptiste Point du Sable, a black man, originally from Haiti.
What has been the response? The response has been, "When is the second edition coming?" They do make everybody feel better. It is as though a door had been opened. The spots, created with the cooperation of black scholars and researchers, have been played in schools. But there is still more to be done, the folklore, poetry and wisdom of black culture stored in oral tradition must be preserved and made available.