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Garofalo, Reebee. "The Impact of the Civil Rights Movement on Popular Music." Radical America 21.6 (1987): 15-22. Print. Reebee Garofalo discusses how the Civil Rights Movement affected the music of the time in his aptly named article “The Impact of the Civil Rights Movement on Popular Music.” His time frame for analysis begins in the mid 1950s and spans into the early 1970s. One topic that Garofalo emphasizes is that music by African American artists of the time was meant to be as mild-mannered as possible, and it was the white musicians such as Bob Dylan who were really writing songs about political activism. When discussing Berry Gordy, the founder of Motown Records, and his methodology in producing music, Garofalo states, “He created a formula that was a perfect metaphor for the early Civil Rights Movement – upbeat Black pop, acceptable to a white audience, that was irresistibly danceable, but not threatening to anyone in tone or content” (18). By saying this, Garofalo is suggesting that African American artists found that the best wayto move toward equality was to act like everybody else so that the public would treat them as such. He also briefly mentions the rise of “girl groups,” or African American all-female singing groups. He juxtaposes these girl groups to the white male vocalists that were popular at the time in order to mark a shift in the Civil Rights Movement. Garofalo gives an interesting statistic: “In 1962, 42 percent of the best-selling singles of the year were by black artists” (18). Once Motownmusic became this prominent, though, and once 1964 rolled around, African American artists could not just stand idly by. So, artists like Sam Cooke and James Brown began to write more political songs. Garofalo’s essay will be useful for this research paper because it does not only
describe the music of the Civil Rights Movement, but it also outlines the music from before and after that time period, to give the reader cause and effect.