I had hoped to have my longest running research project to date, on American Folk singer Leon Bibb, complete for MLK Day 2022. It wasn’t to be. There are only tenuous links, at best, between Creed and Leon Bibb. Researching American history, especially the civil rights and racial justice decade of the 1960’s, is though essential to even begin to understand the impact of race in music as it relates to the work of Creed Taylor during that period.
I hope in my future interviews with some of the people involved with CTI and Kudu at the time to have a discussion on race, and see what impact it had. For example, was race the reason why the CTI All-stars never performed at a university or city in what was the American South? It seems only reasonable given the “all stars” were in fact a mixed-race performance ensemble.
In a trivial contribution to Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy, I chose today to add to Wikipedia, a speech he gave on December 10th, 1965 at a Human Rights Rally in New York City. The speech “Let My People Go“https://apicciano.commons.gc.cuny.edu/files/2016/01/MLK-typed-Hunter-speech.pdf was his first major call for non-violent action against South Africa, Rhodesia and Portugal, by The United States, Great Britain, France, the Soviet Union, Germany and Japan. The gradual build of this boycott was the first I was aware of racial protest power.
It took 25-years to amass a large scale international campaign of “isolation” that eventually included academic, political, economic, cultural and sports boycotts, before the goal of ending apartheid was achieved, in 1990https://history.state.gov/milestones/1989-1992/apartheid.
What’s the Leon Bibb connection?
Simply, for that nights event, Bibb was master of ceremonies. In my write-up about Bibb I propose to cover both civil rights, the racial justice, as well as his growth within the folk scene with both Paul Robeson, Harry Belafonte and Odetta as can be seen from the flyer included below. The event was organized by The American Committee on Africa.