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Origins of Funk Music

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In the 1960s it was a hard time for black Americans. There was a revolution being driven by two well know black civil rights leaders. The first phase of the revolution was driven by a young Islamic black man, Malcolm X, who was a spokesperson for the Nation of Islam. Malcolm X was adamant that blacks needed to take care of their own business. In the issue of black integration in American culture. Malcolm X had the ability to reach any one member of the black nation in America. This revolution was cut short on a sad day in February of 1965, when Malcolm X was assassinated. This left a void in the hearts of the people who he had touched upon in his revolt. This was where things began to get funky.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the revolution there was a young man known Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The revolution in which he was leading was a revolution rather different than the one of Malcolm X. Dr. King's revolution was one in which all blacks and all whites could work together. He spoke of this in his infamous speech I Have A Dream. Though the two leaders were rather different, they fed off each other's roles, which in turn provided possibly the strongest leadership since the Harlem Renaissance, until the death of Malcolm X.

After the death of Malcolm X the movement started to get funky. It seemed as though after the assinaition of Malcolm

X, the revolution's focal point began to change. The movement began to head towards a more intense, and nitty gritty level. It seemed as though all the non-violent organizations such as the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, the Congress of Racial Equality, as well as the Christian Leadership Conference had little hold on what was about to happen to the movement. The death of Malcolm X brought a new direction in the movement. In a society of a violent system it was hard for young blacks to take charge in an non-violent organization, it seemed to be a hypocrisy. And the idea of tolerance was wearing thin for the whole generation.

Later on in the year, around August, the first of many large-scale riots began to break out. The first one was in Los Angeles, California and lasted for a little over three weeks. This single riot killed 39 people during its wrath of burning block after block. This riot was in a sense a sign of the new revolution to come, due to the song "Burn, Baby Burn" by the Creators, being played in heavy rotation on one of the Los Angeles radio stations. These riots sparked a investigation by the federal commission to study the causes of this riot. After that, rebellion became the current method of protest all across black America.

The violent method of protest lead to a movement know as Black Power.

The phrase "Black Power" was brought to the scene during a march on the roads of Mississippi. The march was know as the "Freedom from Fear" march led by James Meredith in the year 1966. "Black Power!" was a phrase that was chanted throughout the entire march. Soon after starting his march, Meredith was shot by sniper. After this, the phrase "Black Power" developed into a political manifesto, used by many black Americans. Following this, Stokely Carmichael challenged the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee to abandon its ties with its white benefactors and to take the philosophy of "Black Power." Carmichael had suggested this in a speech which he had given shortly after his release from prison. He also pleaded for, "black people in this country to unite, to recognize their heritage, and to build a sense of community" He advocated that African Americans should form and lead their own organizations, and urged a complete rejection of the values of American society.

After this speech the Student Nonviolent Coordination Committee severed their ties from the white community, in 1966. It began to advocate mainly black led institutions in the fight for "Black Power," no longer being referred to as civil rights.

The phrase "Black Power" began to be interpreted differently by many black Americans. As this went on musicians such as James Brown and Curtis Mayfield were searching for their own resources to make their music appeal to these people in need of change. The "Black Power" movement was beginning to find followers of all sorts, who were looking for a place to express the anger and frustration the present society had laid upon them.

In Oakland, California during the year 1966, two Merritt College students named Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale formed and organization for black Americans. This organization was called the "Black Panther Party for Self Defense" the goals of this organization involved community policing, active community centers with health and education services, along with a long term plan for black liberation that included a revolution led by black Americans. They followed police, reading the penal code to arresting officers, and began to develop a small following in the Oakland area. In the year 1967 the Panthers dressed in dark leather jackets and dark shades and walked into the California State Legislature, in full view of the national media. They were armed with rifles and were demanding an audience.

The audience was to hear a startling address. The address stated that there are familiar sights appearing in black communities, such as vicious police dogs, cattle prods, and increased police patrols. It stated that City Hall disregards the pleas of Black people for relief from this increased terror.

America's Social system went into shock, with the thought of armed black people entering the scene. Following this address Black Panther Parties opened in over thirty cities nationwide. This made the FBI extremely nervous and they then labeled the Black Panthers "America's Number One threat to national security" in 1969. Over time there were many conflicts between the Black Panthers and police nationwide. As time passed, FBI informants had infiltrated the organization. Many of the leaders of the Black Panthers were double-crossed, ambushed, or imprisoned because of the infultration. Despite the number of leaders that went down, the message of the Panthers was still being conveyed. They became the backbone of the black nation in America.

By 1969 the entire country was well aware of the power of black radicals and the movement they were a part of. For a brief moment it was possible that blacks were able to tell whites what they really thought. In 1969 this theory had spread to music, when Sly and the Family Stone had recorded " Don't Call Me Nigger, Whitey." This opened the doors to young,



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