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‘You jive white motherf*ckers!’: Jazz legend Freddie Hubbard spectacularly blows his cool onstage
02.25.2015
08:10 am

Topics:
Music
Race

Tags:
jazz
Freddie Hubbard


 
The year is 1966 and legendary jazz trumpeter Freddie Hubbard is onstage in Graz, Austria as a sideman for Sonny Rollins.

Distracted by whistling and heckling, Hubbard furiously castigates the audience:

Fuck you white motherfuckers! FUCK YOU white motherfuckers! Well, okay. I’ll go home. If you don’t like me, kiss my ass! That’s right, cuz you jive. You jive. You jive. You white MOTHERFUCKERS! You the ones who started this shit! Lemme tell you - you the ones. Fuck you! FUCK YOU, you jive white motherfuckers! If you don’t like me, KISS MY BLACK ASS! You motherfuckers! Fuck it, I don’t care!

Johannes Probst writes on Big O:

I was talking to James Spaulding, who was in that group, and he remembered the night vividly. Hubbard was drunk and started cussing out the audience. So in the intermission the police kicked in the dressing-room door and took both Hubbard and Spaulding into custody. James was very angry with Freddie, because he had to spend the night in jail.

 

 
Below, hear the influential bebop trumpeter completely lose his shit on a room full of jive white Austrian motherfuckers:
 

Posted by Christopher Bickel | Discussion
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‘Getting Racists Fired’ becomes Tumblr sensation
01.26.2015
08:57 am

Topics:
Activism
Race

Tags:
racism

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How can we stop racism? By better education? By enforcing laws? By outing racists on the Internet and then campaigning to have them fired from their jobs? This is how one group of activists have gone about the problem with their Tumblr site Getting Racists Fired.

Getting Racists Fired is where oeople can out racists by submitting their toxic and dumbass Facebook posts, tweets, comments and images to the site, where they are shared in a bid to shame the individual. The site then urges its followers to write and phone the individual’s employer to have them fired for clowning themselves in public with their racist social media pollution…

To this end, they have posted details of what to say when phoning a company about a racist employee:

Here’s a script of what you can say while calling employers

“Hello can I speak to a manager on duty? I have a complaint to make about one of your employees”

“Yes hello, my name is ______ and I’ve been seeing some very disturbing and disgusting racist comments coming from one of your works. Their name is ____”

” I know that your business is not one that would condone such behaviour. Considering that this person has your company listed as their workplace, they represent it and the ideals your company was built on. I would like to think that your company isn’t one that supports these vile comments and actions, and that’s the purpose of my call today”

“I was also wondering if there is an email address I can send the proof of these comments too, just to solidify these claims, if you find it necessary”

IF THEY SAY THEIR “Hands are tied” say this: “Well if you are not willing to take care of this issue at your level I will be forced to take it to your supervisor and go from there” that usually gets them. And if not ask for their supervisor’s number and call them.

It is absolutely vital that you CALL BACK to check on the status of the issue. Make sure you hold them to their word and that something is being done. Stay calm and cordial. Channel your inner slightly annoyed PTA soccer mom and you’ll be fine.

As a response to the tragic events in Ferguson the site also posted a template for “messaging/emailing businesses about their racist employees.”

___(place of business)___,

In light of recent events in Ferguson, MO, and the resulting protests that have spread out across the country and beyond (of which I’m sure management is aware), just as many people have come to light with violent words as there have those been with support.

I am writing to respectfully request that you do firm checks into the racist behaviors and words of your employees, who post their hate publicly on social media accounts that are tied with your place of business. For both moral and business reputation reasons, other businesses have begun to terminate and/or warn employees who exhibit racist behavior online.

Your employee, ___________, is seen to have posted racial slurs and racially charged discriminatory claims on their facebook wall. I’ve attached a screenshot that contains the posts in question. Warnings for racial slurs and racist language
Yours,
____________


Now some may think this all sounds like bullying, but when queried about this, and why they were seemingly “not even going after racists,” but “going after people who make so called ‘racist’ jokes or comments,” the moderators replied:

Unfortunately, this blog or the actions of its users, which amount to sharing their opinions about whether or not a racist or bigot should continue to be employed, don’t account to ‘ruining lives’. The majority of these individuals will resume employment without much to impede them since they’re white.

The thing about white sociopathy is that only a racist would find such statements to be ‘funny’ or amount to jokes. So your excuse that these are just innocuous comments or jokes are simply not the case, especially since these same individuals are ones that hold jobs and positions with which they can wield institutional power.

You deeply misunderstand the purpose of this blog. By holding individuals accountable to their actions in public, we force change and remove dangerous individuals from positions of power from which they could do harm. The nature of this blog makes it so that as moderators we exist solely in anonymity, such that it is impossible for us to be motivated by personal satisfaction. This is about how People of Color, together, are indeed powerful.
Spoiler alert: the vast majority of the world is not white. It is the tens of thousands of users here, following this blog, that are reading your inane message with varying mixtures of disgust, humor, and pity. Anyway, I’m going to go back to hopefully getting your ass fired.

Bye

There have also been questions raised over privacy and possible “stalking” one moderator replied:

First off what a submitter does is not stalking. Stalking is a very serious issue and shouldn’t be equated to this or thrown around lightly. Checking a couple public sources to get information freely given to report racist public behavior to an employer is nowhere near the sort of criminal behavior of stalking. Demanding accountability for racist actions and words is not stalking.

In the US people may have freedom of speech, but so do we and employers have every right to terminate an employee based on what they choose to say publicly. This isn’t “gettingracistsarrested” it’s “racistsgettingfired”

Getting Racists Fired does have one caveat:

Do not message, contact, threaten, harangue, or harass the individual, their family, friends, or acquaintances; only contact their place of work or study.

And one moderator has further clarified the intention of the blog:

We do not condone sending messages to the accounts of racist people submitted to this blog and suggesting to send messages to a family member was completely uncalled for. Neither me nor Mod N would ever want anyone to harass a family member or to harass or threaten the people in these submissions.

If you are looking for people to message and threaten then this is the wrong place to look. Harassing and threatening a person to the point of them deleting their page is not the intent of this blog and can very well be illegal. It also breaks links to public posts that are sent to employers and schools which is completely counterproductive to the intent of this blog.

We are looking for public accountability not for people to delete and remake their social networking pages.

Three hours after setting up the blog, Getting Racists Fired had 4,000 followers. Now they have more than 40,000.

Racism is a learned behavior. It can be unlearned too.

Below: some examples from the site of the kind of racism they are outing
 
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Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
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A paler shade of White: ‘The History of White People in America’


 

“Not all white people are the same, don’t get me wrong, but they all have a few things in common that make them inescapably white.”

In Martin Mull’s pioneering 1985 mockumentary, The History of White People in America he makes a journey into the heart of whiteness examining the life of a stereotypical white suburban family, the Harrisons of Hawkins Falls, Ohio. They own a Weber self-cleaning barbecue grill, they all have personal jars of mayonnaise and they are not terribly self-aware people. (Sound like anyone you know? Of course not, I’m only joking.)

“No bargaining, no finagling. Full price. The white person’s way.”

The Harrison family’s patriarch is played by Mull’s Fernwood 2Night co-star Fred Willard in what is probably one of his best-remembered roles. Certainly it’s a role that he was… er… born to play, having been type-cast for his entire career as the ultimate clueless Caucasian guy. Cast as Willard’s wife is another Caucasian comedic genius, the very wonderful Mary Kay Place (Mull’s Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman co-star in the mid-70s). Mull and his mockumentary crew also visit The Institute for White Studies in Zanesville, Ohio (where scientists try to prove that white people aren’t boring) and Dinah Shore Junior High School.

“Look how clean this place is!”

Written by Martin Mull and Alan Rucker and directed by Harry Shearer for the Cinemax Comedy Experiment. Produced by Mull and future Friends producer/director Kevin S. Bright. There were two sequels, the superior The History of White People in America Volume II (on YouTube in several parts) and Portrait of a White Marriage, which was still funny, although less successful than the first two installments.
 

 
After the jump, part II

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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Republicans block historical marker of Ku Klux Klan massacre
01.19.2015
01:04 pm

Topics:
History
Race

Tags:
Nazis
KKK
Greensboro Massacre


 
On November 3, 1979, members of the Ku Klux Klan and the American Nazi Party shot and killed five protesters at a “Death to the Klan March” in Greensboro, North Carolina. Of the protestors killed, four were members of the Communist Workers’ Party (the organization responsible for the march), and one was a supporter. Despite clear video evidence and many witnesses, both of the two criminal trials resulted in acquittals by all-white juries. Six years later, a civil suit accusing police of collaboration with the Klan resulted in a $350,000 judgment against the city and both hate groups, but to this day only one plaintiff (the widow of a doctor who ran a clinic for low-income children) has received her payment.

Despite none of this being in dispute, the Greensboro Massacre, one of the darker moments in American history, is currently the subject of a partisan friction. Recently, the North Carolina Highway Historical Marker Advisory Committee voted to erect a commemorative marker reading, “The Greensboro Massacre—Ku Klux Klan and American Nazi Party members, on Nov. 3 1979, shot and killed five Communist Workers’ Party members one-tenth mile north,” but the project remains in deadlock over objections from City Council members. The marker’s major suporters on the council are two black Democrats, and a few members remain ambivalent. Those most ardently opposed? You guessed it—two white dudes from that Grand Old Party!

The idea that this is some kind of conflict is both frustrating and predictable, but in lieu of a diatribe, here’s actual footage of the Greensboro Massacre. It’s violent, but not gory; the ugliest thing about seeing it is knowledge of the future, where justice is evaded and history is whitewashed.
 

 
Thank you Eric M. Fink

Posted by Amber Frost | Discussion
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That time Tom Petty tried to stop the Rodney King riots with song….
01.14.2015
06:53 am

Topics:
Activism
Music
Race

Tags:
Tom Petty
LA riots


 
I am not up on what is supposedly cool or uncool these days in regards to acceptable Americana, but I have always held a deep and totally unironic love for Tom Petty. In addition to his later work, which I think does amazing stuff with folk, jangle, country and rock sounds, I’d argue he’s the only artist that really successfully integrated twang into proto-punk. As far as I’m concerned, “Anything That’s Rock ‘n’ Roll” has all the great elements of a good Dictators or New York Dolls song—but with this lovely Southern flair. Tom Petty is cool.

Like almost every artist though, I cannot defend his entire canon. “Peace in L.A.” was Petty’s 1992 comment on the events that unfolded after the Rodney King verdict, a weird miss for a relatively socially conscious guy known for lambasting record companies and playing Farm Aid. Part of it is that the song is just really bad (the dated production is even forgivable), but it’s also that this particular incident simply did not require Tom Petty’s musical commentary.

Cringe-along with the lyrics:

We need peace in L.A., what happened was wrong
We all feel betrayed, but we got to be strong
If the powers that be let evil go free
You must understand, don’t play into their hand

We need peace in L.A., peace in L.A.

Don’t need beating and shouting, don’t need burning and looting
Tonight we all pray, that our children are safe
There’s hurt and frustration, there’s a hard realization
But how can we help if we steal from ourselves?

We need peace in L.A., peace in L.A.
We need peace in L.A., peace in L.A.

Stay cool, don’t be a fool
Stay cool, don’t be a fool

The song was apparently written and recorded in one day, and then rush-released to radio stations the very next day. Its effect on the rioters has never been quantified (for some reason!). Oh Tom, I still love you, but I’m so glad you didn’t try and write a song about Ferguson! Take a listen below, if you dare—it gets really bad around the bridge… I mean spoken-word bad.
 

Posted by Amber Frost | Discussion
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‘No Pakistanis’: The xenophobic roots of one of the Beatles’ most iconic songs
01.12.2015
10:10 am

Topics:
Music
Race

Tags:
The Beatles


 
Get Back” was a bluesy Beatles number so down ‘n’ dirty that it might almost have passed for a Stones song. So it might not be so surprising that in the sessions leading up to the recording of the song, the Beatles, specifically the future Sir Paul McCartney, used the song to spout some racist sentiments that may (or may not) have been intended as satire. The recording of “Get Back” was a protracted affair for the Beatles; as Kenneth Womack notes in The Beatles Encyclopedia, “Over the course of 17 days in January 1969, the Beatles rehearsed some 59 iterations of ‘Get Back.’” One of those iterations would infamously become known as the “No Pakistanis” version, well known to Beatles collectors and xenophobes alike. In the “No Pakistanis” version of “Get Back,” you can hear the familiar melody and chorus, but the verses express a darker vision of the white U.K. underclass. The verses include lines like ‘Don’t dig no Pakistanis, taking all the peoples jobs.”

With a good deal of nonsense words filling out the lines, you also get “Ronan Relimun, was a Puerto Rican, working in another world. / Want it thrown around, Say Puerto Rican, livin’ in the USA. / Pretty Ado Lamb, was a pakistani, living in another world, / Want it thrown around, don’t dig no pakistanis, taking all the people jobs.”

As Andrew Hickey writes in The Beatles in Mono,
 

Yet another blues-based rocker, this track had the most unfortunate genesis of any track on the album, starting out with lyrics including the line “don’t dig no Pakistanis taking all the people’s jobs.”

McCartney claims—relatively convincingly—that this was intended as a satire on racist attitudes. But coming as it did straight after conservative politician Enoch Powell’s infamous “Rivers of Blood” speech, which ignited a wave of neo-Nazism in Britain that is still unfortunately there today, it would have been ill-judged at best to put it out. At least one neo-Nazi band has in fact performed a cover version of the song with these “no Pakistanis” lyrics, and had it been released that version would be the worst blot on the Beatles’ discography.

 
The best source on “No Pakistanis” is an April 2013 article that appeared in Salon by Alex Sayf Cummings under the title “‘No Pakistanis’: The Racial Satire the Beatles Don’t Want You to Hear.” Per Cummings, the song “tells us much about the limits of what musicians, even hugely popular and politically engaged ones, can say in popular music.” Cummings points out that “in a recording known as ‘Back to the Commonwealth’ or ‘The Commonwealth Song,’ the band blasts the politician by name”—this just a few days before the recording of “No Pakistanis,”

Here’s Womack again:
 

“Commonwealth” finds its roots in a January 9 session in which Lennon and McCartney improvised the song. “Commonwealth” was concocted in protest of the Conservative party’s reptriation movement to limit the sudden influx of thousands of Indian and Pakistani immigrants who had been denied the right to work in Kenya. … While “Commonwealth” never advanced beyond the Beatles’ January sessions, “Get Back” eventually began to take shape in its place, with McCartney originally satirizing Powell’s anti-immigration position, singing “Don’t dig no Pakistanis taking all the people’s jobs.”

 
After his “Rivers of Blood” speech, Powell was dismissed from his position as Shadow Defence Secretary in the Shadow Cabinet of Edward Heath—xenophobes and white supremacists in Britain would take up his betrayal as a sort of code, muttering “Enoch was right” as a way of signaling a common understanding of white resentment, rather in the way that conservatives in the U.S. will throw around the terms “Benghazi,” “death panels” or “Kenyan Socialist” to signal fervent allegiance to anti-liberal causes.

Predictably, there’s a thread on (definitely NSFW or anywhere where your Internet usage might be tracked) a stromfront.org forum (“the voice of the new, embattled White minority!”) in which the Beatles are adopted as allies in the white suprmacist cause: “It seems even the Beatles knew that packistani immigrants were bad for the economy!” A white supremacist band called Battlecry has apparently covered the song but I couldn’t find it.

The notion that Paul McCartney harbored racist ideas or was himself a xenophobe seems rather unlikely. The recording sticks out of the Beatles’ catalog like a sore thumb, “rich fag Jew” or no “rich fag Jew.” The Powell speech was clearly rattling around McCartney’s head, he was adopting the persona of a somewhat more “badass” band than the Beatles usually were, and, probably most pertinently, he was somehow enchanted by the magical syllabification of “Pakistani,” which is an unusually interesting word to say out loud. To listen to “No Pakistanis” is to hear a master musician drunk on words, yes playing with personae to be sure but also just really into the sounds of the words, dig? In the line “don’t dig no Pakistanis, taking all the people jobs” you can also, perhaps, hear a multi-millionaire international celebrity doing a certain degree of slumming but then again, it hadn’t been all that long before this when Paul and the gang were stuck in working-class Liverpool wondering what the future might hold.

“No Pakistanis”:

 
“Back to the Commonwealth”:


 

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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Rock Against Racism: On the front line with The Clash, Specials, Undertones & Elvis Costello

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It all began in 1968 when an old Tory coot Enoch Powell gave a racist speech against immigration and anti-discrimination legislation at his West Midlands constituency in England. Powell claimed he was horrified at what he believed was an unstoppable flow of immigration that would eventually swamp the country where “in fifteen or twenty years’ time the black man will have the whip hand over the white man.” It was an incendiary and offensive speech full bile and hate, and became known as the “Rivers of blood speech” because of Powell’s quotation from Virgil’s Aeneid about “‘the River Tiber foaming with much blood.’”

Many of the white working class supported Powell, most shamefully the London dockers’ union staged a one day strike in his favor. Powell became the pin-up of the far right and his words appeared to sanction their rise, in particular the odious neo-Nazi National Front that promoted its racist policies with the boot as much as the ballot. Against this rose Rock Against Racism—“a raggedy arsed united front” co-founded by Red Saunders, Roger Huddle and others in 1976.

At first, Rock Against Racism was just an idea—a way to bring together a new generation of youth against the stealthy rise of the far right. It may have remained just an idea had it not been for Eric Clapton announcing during a concert in 1976 that the UK had “become overcrowded” and his fans should vote for Enoch Powell to stop Britain from becoming “a black colony.” Allegedly Clapton then shouted “Keep Britain white.” His racist tirade led to Saunders and Huddle writing a letter to the music paper NME pointing out that half Clapton’s music was black. The letter ended with a call for readers to help establish Rock Against Racism. The response was overwhelmingly positive.

In April 1978, 100,000 people marched across London in support of Rock Against Racism, which was followed by a concert at Victoria Park headlined by The Clash and the Tom Robinson Band. It was a momentous event, which singer and activist Billy Bragg correctly described as “the moment when my generation took sides.”

Photographer Syd Shelton documented the rise of Rock Against Racism during the 1970s and 1980s from its first demonstrations, the concert in Victoria Park, to the gigs, bands, musicians (The Clash, The Specials, The Undertones, Elvis Costello, etc), the young activists and supporters who stood up and proudly said: “Love Music, Hate Racism.”
 
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More rocking pictures against racism, after the jump…
 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
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James Baldwin asks ‘How are white Americans so sure they are white?’
12.04.2014
09:52 am

Topics:
Literature
Politics
Race

Tags:
James Baldwin
Dick Gregory


 
In 1963, James Baldwin wrote two essays that examined the role of race and racism in the history of America. Published in The New Yorker, Baldwin’s first essay, written in the form of a letter to his fourteen-year-old nephew on the 100th anniversary of Emancipation explained “the crux of [his] dispute with [his] country”:

You were born where you were born and faced the future that you faced because you were black and for no other reason. The limits to your ambition were thus expected to be settled. You were born into a society which spelled out with brutal clarity and in as many ways as possible that you were a worthless human being. You were not expected to aspire to excellence. You were expected to make peace with mediocrity.

Baldwin developed his historical and political analysis in his second essay in which he described his own experience of religion, criticising both Christianity and Islam as being culpable in maintaining ethnic division and oppression—where the white oppressors had attempted to destroy black men and women:

...the truth about the black man, as a historical entity and as a human being, has been hidden from him, deliberately and cruelly; the power of the white world is threatened whenever a black man refuses to accept the white world’s definitions. So every attempt is made to cut the black man down—not only was made yesterday but is made today.

Baldwin’s essays proved so popular and influential they were collected and published book form as The Fire Next Time later the same year. This book placed Baldwin as one of the major figures in the American civil rights movement of the 1960s, and as one of the greatest public intellectuals of the twentieth century.
 

 
In 1968, along with comedian and activist Dick Gregory, James Baldwin gave a talk at the West Indian Student Center in London, where he and Gregory discussed the American black experience in relation to the Afro-Caribbean experience in Britain. The seminar was documented by a young filmmaker Horace Ové, who filmed the proceedings and later edited the footage into a documentary called Baldwin’s Nigger (1969).  Though there is nothing special in the way in which Ové filmed the meeting (mainly in a flat, news-report style), it is the content of what each participant said, in particular Baldwin, that makes Ové‘s film so important, as he had fortunately captured an important debate and conversation between Baldwin, Gregory and the audience about ethnicity, identity, politics and racism at a crucial moment in world history.

Baldwin began by talking about a visit to the British Museum where he got in conversation with a West Indian man who asked the writer where he was from.

I told him I was from Harlem. That answer didn’t satisfy him…
“Yes,” he said “But man, but where were you born?”
And I began to get it.
“Well,” I said, “My mother was born in Maryland, my father was born in New Orleans, I was born in New York.”
He said, “But before that where were you born?”
And I had to say, “I don’t know.”

Baldwin went onto explain why he doesn’t know—for his ancestral entry into America was by a “bill of sale, which stops you from going any further.”

But Baldwin wasn’t interested in just offering personal historical context of the black American experience, he also asked provocative and difficult questions about white ethnicity and the complex relationship between all Americans:

White men lynched negroes knowing them to be their sons. White women watched men being lynched knowing them to be their lovers… How are white Americans so sure they are white?

The point is racism damages everyone.

In light of the institutionalised racism exposed by the Michael Brown fiasco in Ferguson, the killing of Eric Garner in New York and the rise of racist and xenophobic politics across Europe and the Middle East, Horace Ové‘s film of James Baldwin and Dick Gregory is necessary viewing.
 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
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Bugs Bunny’s racist adventure
11.25.2014
08:48 am

Topics:
Animation
Race

Tags:
World War II
Bugs Bunny


 
So many friends of mine are Disney fanatics, but I’ve always been partial to Warner Brothers cartoons. Most of the classic Bugs Bunny, Sylvester, Wile E. Coyote and Daffy Duck cartoons still make me bust a gut. When I watch the 70-year-old “Bugs Bunny Nips the Nips,” however, it just makes my face burn and sweat pool in my shoes. It’s a long, uncomfortable, ugly eight minutes. Caveat spectator.

For reasons that will be immediately apparent, you probably did not see this extravagantly racist WWII-era propaganda cartoon during the Saturday mornings of your childhood. Wikipedia says it was released on home video collections in the early ‘90s, but these were quickly withdrawn after the studio received complaints. In any event, it was conspicuously absent from Bugs & Daffy: The Wartime Cartoons and the Looney Tunes DVD set that covers this period.

I first saw it on a millionth-generation VHS I rented from a video store in Berkeley, the same place I first found a copy of Robert Frank’s famously unreleasable Rolling Stones documentary, Cocksucker Blues. That bootleg of “Bugs Bunny Nips the Nips” looked and sounded about as bad as the “restored” version Spike TV posted several years ago, only the color was even more washed-out.

Recently, a much higher quality copy has surfaced online. While it’s not crystal clear, and the top of the frame is still cut off, at least the headache you get watching it will be attributable to racism alone. The wretched quality of the bootleg wouldn’t let you forget the cartoon’s contraband status, which—for me, at least—made the short slightly less disturbing: it was marked as a banned film, never to be screened again. Here, it just looks like another Saturday morning with Bugs. 
 

Definitely NSFW.
 

Posted by Oliver Hall | Discussion
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Remembering Hines Farm, a legendary African-American mecca for the blues
11.06.2014
10:11 am

Topics:
Food
History
Music
Race

Tags:
Hines Farm


 
From the late 1930s until the early 1970s, a sprawling 32-acre spread in northeast Ohio known as Hines Farm, with its own open-air juke joint and enclosed night club, regularly attracted thousands of African-Americans with its ass-kicking blues parties. Hines Farm must have been a really special place, an oasis of incredible blues music, southern food, and (by the way) racial tolerance. It offered good times for all, with a roster of entertainments you wouldn’t find in New York City quite so quickly: roller skating, amusement park rides, exhibition baseball games, horse races, hobo car races, motorcycle races, squirrel hunts…. the list goes on and on.

Some of the biggest names in blues played there—B.B. King, Bobby Blue Bland, and John Lee Hooker, as well as jazz figures like Louis Jordan and Count Basie. Basie and his full orchestra were hired to play the grand opening of an outdoor pavilion in 1961. The pavilion doubled as a roller rink and a dance floor and could accommodate 1,500 people. People would come from miles around, from as far as Detroit or Cleveland, for the rollicking fun on summer weekends.

When B.B. King thinks of Hines Farm, he recalls the “good food, good music, and pretty girls. It was the only place that was happening.” John Lee Hooker called Hines Farm “a one and only place—wasn’t no other place like that I have been to that was like Hines Farm.” Hines Farm’s identity as an informal place for African-Americans to unwind, relax, and enjoy life started in the basement of Frank and Sarah Hines in the 1930s. By the late 1940s they had the first liquor license held by an African-American in northwest Ohio, and by 1957 they constructed an actual blues club.

Blind Bobby Smith, a Toledo blues guitarist who did session work for Stax Records, used to play in their basement in the early days. According to Smith, “After they’d close down outdoors we’d all pile in the basement. In the wintertime [Frank Hines] just ran it out of the house. It was, you know, everybody talkin’ at the same time ... passing the bottle around, and Hines wishin’ everybody’d get out of there so he could go to bed.”
 

Sarah and Frank Hines
 
For African-American men, Hines Farm was a place for sex, a place to dance and meet women. A neighbor recalled wistfully, “Man, it was good to go back there in the woods. See, I never took my car. I’d just walk back there and have me a cold beer and watch ‘em dance. See, that place back there, they used to dance. Chicks would come out of Toledo. Some of them ol’ gals was good lookin’. I’d sit there and drink beer and watch ‘em from mid-afternoon. Hell, I wouldn’t leave ‘til dark ... watchin’ them chicks shake it up.”

According to Big Jack Reynolds, one of the regular performers in the club’s early days, Mexicans and whites were perfectly welcome as well: “There was no discrimination there.” As Marlene Harris-Taylor, who has co-produced a documentary about Hines Farm, said, “When most African-Americans came north, they moved into urban areas. Most of the jazz and blues clubs that sprang up were in the urban settings. Hines Farm was unique. It was like home for African-Americans who had moved here from the rural South.”
 

The interior of Hines Farm Blues Club
 
It was Frank Hines’ job to keep the peace. Hines would check everybody for knives and guns and just take them, then return them when they left. Frank’s wife Sarah was the same way, wouldn’t let any trouble start. Henry Griffin, who owned the property of Hines Farm after the blues club was discontinued in 1976, remembered, “One time Sarah broke a beer over a guy’s head. He got out there and played like he was drunk and was sayin’ a lot of filthy talk in front of the women, and she tried to get him to hush, you know, and he wouldn’t do it. So she went to him a couple of times. The third time, he started all kinds of that filthy talk, and she just took a beer bottle and went up there and hit that son-of-a-bitch on top of his head. That damned bottle shattered all to pieces, man, and that guy said, ‘She tried to kill me.’ He grabbed his head and said, ‘She killed me. I’m gonna tell Sonny’—that’s what everybody called Frank Hines. She said, ‘I don’t give a damn if you tell Sonny—just get the hell out of here.’ And it was peaceful the rest of the night.”

It also had motorcycle races, which were a really big deal. It’s the one thing that everyone who was there recalled, aside from the food and music. Griffin remembered: “Hines would send out a flyer that he was havin’ a motorcycle race and he would have people come from Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, and they’d get on their motorcycles and ride right up there. And there’d be thousands of ‘em.”

Hines Farm shut down in autumn 1976 and quickly fell into disrepair. Steve Coleman, son of Griffin, who passed away in January 2013, has the place up and running again.

In this documentary clip, B.B. King and John Lee Hooker reminisce about Hines Farm:
 

 
Thank you Charles!

Sources for this post include “Historical Blues Club to Reopen” and “Remembering Toledo’s Blues Showcase,” both from the Toledo Blade, and this expansive piece from Toledo’s Attic by Thomas E. Barden and Matthew Donahue. Matthew Donahue is the author of I’ll Take You There: An Oral and Photographic History of the Hines Farm Blues Club. Buy it!

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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