The greatest flood in American history took place in 1927 when the Mississippi River broke the levees in almost 150 places. Below Memphis Tennessee the Mississippi was 90 Km. wide; 70,000 Km lay under flood waters. Slavery may have been abolished but wealthy plantation owners depended on black share croppers to work their land. As white residents were moved to safety, poor blacks were rounded up at gunpoint – forced into labour camps along the remaining levees. Not so much a chain gang as a beleaguered army of unfortunates – they had no choice but to fill sandbags as plantation owners waited for the waters to subside. Their efforts futile; when the levees broke they were left to fend for themselves. For anyone who’s ever pondered where Chicago blues or the term Muddy Waters came from – look no farther than the flood of ’27. Responsible for the largest migration of African Americans in U.S. history.
This link shows a timeline of events on the Mississippi River.
Pondering the flood of 1927 serves as a perfect example of the obvious. That being, “might makes right”, and money trumps ethics without exception. The great flood may have been over 80 years ago but make no mistake; money makes the world go round.
Long ago in America without internet or cell phones, song moved a generation to take action. Music united generations, gave people a voice and served as a undeniable call to action. Vietnam war protests of the 60s and 70s, Mississippi blues of the 20s and 30s, civil rights marches in the 50s, great depression in the 30s – all were defined by songs of protest. Protest music served to comfort and unite, it was a call to action, a rallying cry, a means of letting us know we were part of something.
Muddy Waters, Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger, Bob Dylan, Woodstock, fade into obscurity. The power of protest songs lost on a generation of gamers and tweeters. Ponder outcomes of the “occupy movement” if they were able to put rage into song. Music has become an obsolete tool for change. I’m not saying political music /artists don’t exist, but state with conviction – tweets will never touch the soul. Facebook posts, comments on reddit can’t match the power of music. The world is a different place from the era when thousands of voices sang in unison, not hoping for change, but expecting it.