Music during Jim Crow

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Jim Crow Train

This song was released in 1941 by Josh White while Jim Crow laws were still in use. During this time, separate but equal was found to be constitutionally legal. In public, everything from water fountains to restaurants were split into white and colored sections. Josh White was a very popular Blues singer during the time period and released an album “Jim Crow Blues” which showed a political side of music. In this specific song, White tackles doing a simple task in riding a train. He sings about hearing the train whistle and wishing Jim Crow laws didn’t exist so he would be able to ride. White goes on to sing “Stop Jim Crow so I can ride, Black and White folks ridin’ side by side”. White obviously was against the use of Jim Crow laws and dreams of a time where African Americans and white people can do everyday things in cooperation. White being a popular bluesman during the time, made this song very important. Many people listened to this song, and heard his political view of opposing Jim Crow laws.

Jim Crow Blues Album Review

Musuem Exhibit JCT 

This newspaper article is a review of Josh White’s new album, “Jim Crow Blues”. The author, Howard Taubman, praises Josh White’s courage to create music that has a political background that hits home for so many southerners. The article actually discusses the song “Jim Crow Trains”, and references other songs on the album. Taubman uses his article to not only review White’s album but discuss the political views brought up in songs. Taubman mentions that this album doesn’t capture a pretty time period, but the songs very accurately depict the time. He writes about how the album touches on “The other side of Blues”. In his perspective, he sees Blues as not just a couple similar songs on “Love, razors, dice, and death”. Essentially he is pinpointing two polar sides of the Blues. One side that is almost stereotypical and expected and the other serves as a platform of expressing the flaws of daily life for African Americans. Blues typically serve as a genuine expression of a culture. Historically they cover topics from relationships to working in the fields too long. This album review touches on the songs themselves, and also dives into why White’s album is more than just music. The article references the lyrics fighting for the rights of African Americans.