USF professor brings knowledge

Speaker gives history of music

University of San Francisco Professor Dr. James Taylor spoke at an Academic Scholarship Lecture event hosted by the LMC Music department Tuesday, March 28. Silvester Henderson, LMC music professor, directed the event.  

Opening the event, Henderson played piano on one of two songs along with several students.

Taylor began his lecture, discussing an array of topics from his influences in politics, the civil rights era, to how a predominantly black genre of music like hip-hop became diverse.

He also talked about the many things that got him into black history.

One book that inspired Taylor as a high school senior for black history is “There is a River” written by Dr. Vincent Harding. Harding writes in his book a metaphor comparing the people in the black community to rivers in Africa.

“You cannot understand a prominent tree without knowing its roots and foundations,” said Taylor. “It changed my life as a teenager. His message is so powerful and the way Dr. Harding writes his book he uses the idea of a river as a metaphor for the black community.”

Taylor would go on to say comments of important historical black figures, but the book makes it as though they are not that important. 

“When you get what’s behind the book, Barack Obama is not that deep. Martin Luther King, Jr. is not that important when you really put them in the full flow of the black experience.”

Taylor then goes into talking about how black people existed before they were brought to the U.S.

“The black American people are a pre-United States people and it is important to know. The basis of black people create themselves into a people,” he said. “We have not been given this information intentionally.”

He explained the history of the ring shout which as he says “made black people into a race” while also showing a visual on the projector of how blacks would do said shout.

During this part of his speech, he referenced the movie Song of the South (1946) that would portray black people to be villains when really there were racial undertones in the film itself. His main point was that the character Uncle Remus was unintelligent and therefore representative of how white people saw black people in that era.

As the presentation ends Taylor brings up that the genre hip-hop is now “hip-pop” due to the fact that it is no longer exclusive to urban communities but to the whole world.

“You have Drake, a Canadian rapper, be played all over New York,” said Taylor. “You have Iggy Azalea, an Australian rapper, rap as if she is a woman from the ghetto southern states of America. This is not to say that the music itself is not good, but that the genre black people originally started has been able to make an impact for many nations all across the globe.”