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Sun Ra's ChicagoAfrofuturism and the City$
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William Sites

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780226732077

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2021

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226732244.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CHICAGO SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.chicago.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Chicago Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CHSO for personal use.date: 24 September 2021

Leadership Dreams

Leadership Dreams

(p.39) 3 Leadership Dreams
Sun Ra's Chicago

William Sites

University of Chicago Press

During the late 1930s, Sonny Blount transformed his home in Birmingham, Alabama, into a rehearsal space and informal philosophical salon. Interwar Birmingham was a city full of secular and sacred dreams of millenarian freedom, and Blount’s home offered local visitors surprising access to musical experimentation as well as unorthodox theories of racial identity and space travel. Drawing on two African American philosophies typically seen as competing, Blount was also developing a more encompassing conception of leadership. Yet his approach incorporated a quality that was foreign to both Booker T. Washington and W. E. B. Du Bois: a profound ambivalence toward leadership itself. Jailed in 1942 for refusing the draft, Blount then spent part of the war in a civilian work camp in Pennsylvania, where he encountered for the first time a racially mixed social environment and developed a certain pride in his newly acquired status as conscientious objector. His return home was a difficult one, however, and in 1946 he left the South for Chicago, taking the cultural sensibilities of his Birmingham life with him.

Keywords:   Sonny Blount, space travel, racial identity, leadership, African American, black, millenarian, conscientious objector, Birmingham, Alabama

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