The Sounds of Liberation: Resistance, Cultural retention, and Progressive Traditions for social justice in African American Music

Posted: April 26, 2012 in History, Luqman Muhammad Abdullah, The Colour Line

Author: Luqman Muhammad Abdullah

Source: Thesis Presented to the Faculty of the Graduate School of Cornell University in Partial Fulfilment of the Requirements for the Degree of Master of Professional Studies, 2009


The study illustrates how progressive traditions for social justice in Black music have acted as a source of agency and a tool for resistance against oppression. It also explains how the music of African Americans has served as a primary mechanism for disseminating their cultural legacy.

The thesis focuses on four black artists to make its point: 

Bernice Johnson Reagon, John Coltrane, Curtis Mayfield and Gil Scott-Heron

These artists comprise the talented cadre of musicians that exemplify the progressive Black musical tradition for social justice in their respective genres of gospel, jazz, soul and spoken word. The methods utilized for the study include a socio-historical account of the origins of Black music, an overview of the artists’ careers, and a lyrical analysis of selected songs created by each of the artists. 



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