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Tear Down the WallsWhite Radicalism and Black Power in 1960s Rock$
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Patrick Burke

Print publication date: 2021

Print ISBN-13: 9780226768182

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: January 2022

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226768359.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CHICAGO SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.chicago.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Chicago Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CHSO for personal use.date: 28 June 2022

Honkie Soul The MC5 at the Democratic National Convention

Honkie Soul The MC5 at the Democratic National Convention

Lincoln Park, Chicago, August 25, 1968

Chapter:
(p.19) 1 Honkie Soul The MC5 at the Democratic National Convention
Source:
Tear Down the Walls
Author(s):

Patrick Burke

Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226768359.003.0002

The Detroit rock band MC5 are known for their affiliation with the White Panther Party, a radical group founded in Ann Arbor in 1968 by poet, jazz critic, and arts promoter John Sinclair. This chapter argues that the MC5 did not simply engage in cultural appropriation of Black music but rather sought to transform it into a new idiom relevant to white musicians and radicals like themselves. Rather than attempt literal imitations of blues or avant-garde jazz, the MC5 self-consciously adapted the form and style of their African American influences into a new context. This approach also informed their political stance, which was itself an adaptation, sometimes reverential and sometimes whimsical, of the ideas of Black Power figures such as Amiri Baraka and Eldridge Cleaver. The MC5 believed that their commitment to African American music inspired and justified their political activism, but this belief was always threatened by their tenuous position as white performers of that music.

Keywords:   MC5, White Panther Party, avant-garde jazz, Detroit rock, rock, Black Power, Amiri Baraka, Eldridge Cleaver, cultural appropriation

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