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Motown Records: Lost History

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

In the early 1970s, Motown Records released politically charged albums on a subsidiary called Black Forum – most of which faded into obscurity. Now, the producer and historian Pat Thomas has collected the sounds and the stories of artists like Langston Hughes, Elaine Brown, Amiri Baraka and more, for the book “Listen Whitey! The Sights and Sounds of Black Power 1965-1975.” He joins us to explore a time when politics and pop culture intersected in a most revolutionary way.

Listen to the Grammy-winning Black Forum recording of Martin Luther King Jr., called "Why I Am Opposed to the War in Vietnam" (1970).


Pat Thomas

Comments [5]

ceedee from Mt.Vernon

Wow-playing the track from Amiri Baraka,while saying the roots of rap might have been on display is understandable. Disregarding the "no faggots at all,no faggots at all,no faggots at all" refrain of his post-revolutionary world is not. Especially when Schaffer mused as to why the music on the label might have disappeared. Yes,the times were changing-"pop culture and disco" were taking over the scene,if you will. But that included John Lennon's long haired bisexuality,Diana Ross and her "I'm Coming Out" anthem,as well as Warhol's drag and gender-bending artistry that,inspired by the Gay Pride movement,made such "revolutionary rhetoric" seem outdated and ignorant-not merely bigoted. I appreciate the look back at the SOUL label,but as they say,context is everything.

Feb. 22 2012 03:15 PM
Lin Young from St Petersburg

Gosh, this show really brought back memories. I'd forgotten all about those recordings. I'm white, but I had friends who had those recordings and I listened them. I think some radio stations even played some of them back then. I especially remember the recording by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on his reasons for being opposed to the war in Vietnam. Unfortunately, nothing has changed over the decades. The politicians, and military-industrial machine, that runs our country would still prefer to roam the world destroying people and objects instead of investing those dollars to build up our own nation.

Feb. 22 2012 02:35 PM
John from office

These albums are nonsense. They are forgotten for a reason. Unfortunatly, one of those reasons is that political thought always loses to partying with african americans. Does anyone remember the free cuba movement??

Also, lets not venerate cop killers and drug dealers.

Feb. 22 2012 02:28 PM
stuart from nyc

listening to amiri baraka -

very nice to hear the artistic work of an avowed anti-semite!

good work, wnyc...

Feb. 22 2012 02:17 PM
Fahamisha Patricia Brown

I have several of these albums and used them in various Black Stdies courses that I tagut between 1969 and 1990. I also used to host a radio program and would play selection occasionally. They've been on my list to digitize for ages. Has anyone done this?

Feb. 22 2012 01:56 PM

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