Not known to many, the genre of rock music originated from gospel music sung on the slave plantations in early Mississippi. A common musical device used in rock music is known as “call and response”. This is where the singer sings the line and everyone else involved in the chorus repeats that line. This came from slaves working in the fields and singing songs to get through the day. Theses hymns are fondly referred to as “negro spirituals”. In Anne Moody’s novel, Coming of Age in Mississippi we revisit African Americans in Mississippi struggling not through slavery, but through the oppression of the Civil Rights Era. At the same plantation but in a different time, Jim crow has made life almost impossible for blacks to get by in the South. In a country were all men were created equal, laws were put in place to ensure that blacks could never achieve equality. Through Anne Moody’s work and through the work of musical artists Johnny Cash, and Nas, we will discover just how far we may or may not have come.
When Essie Mae is just a child, her neighbor’s house is burnt down shortly after the slaughter of 14 year old Emmit Till. Though they were not associated with any civil rights group, rumors about them participating in the movement for freedom led to the neighbors, the Taplins’, home being destroyed. According to an excerpt from the novel “I shall never forget the expressions on the faces of the Negroes. There was an almost anonymous hopelessness in them. They still, said nothing. There was something strange about that smoke. It was the thickest and blackest smoke I had ever seen.” (Moody, 414). Though saddened the blacks in the community returned to their jobs with little protest returning to the fields and cafes. Essie May had a different feeling about the situation, she felt resilient. In Johnny Cash’s song “Can’t No Grave Hold My Body Down” there are elements of struggle in the background. The song uses sounds of people walking and chains being slung; these can remind you of slaves in bondage. The lyrics:
“Well, meet me, Jesus, meet me,
Meet me in the middle of the air
And if these wings don't fail me
I will meet you anywhere
Ain't no grave can hold my body down
There ain't no grave can hold my body down.”
(Cash, “Cant No Grave Hold My Body Down”)
These lyrics relate to Essie May’s want for her mother to stand up for...