EVERY VOICE AND SING!
EPISODE ONE: ―Every Voice: The Early Legends‖
(00:00:01) ―THIS PROGRAM IS MADE POSSIBLE BY THE CORPORATION FOR PUBLIC
BROADCASTING, AND THE FORD FOUNDATION.‖ (00:00:06)
(00:00:07) Hello, I’m Michele Norris…. Welcome to Every Voice and Sing!
(Heritage Signature Chorale ―..My Soul’s Been Anchored in the Lord‖ (00:00:12--00:00:33)
In this series we’ll take a look at the Choral Music Legacy of the HBCUs-- the Historically Black
Colleges and Universities of the United States of America.
(Wilberforce Choir ―... Beautiful City‖ under…)(00:00:33—00:00:58)
It’s a musical legacy that spread from the plantations of the southern United States across the globe… and influences almost every vocal genre today…
(LBM... UP Full, back under)(00:00:58—00:01:21)
Fisk, I would say, is the home of the Negro Spiritual…
Paul Kwame is the musical Director of the Fisk Jubilee Singers at Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee….
…the Fisk Jubilee Singers are the ones who introduced this music to the world…
[FISK SINGERS ―Sometimes I Feel Like I’ve Nevevr Been Born Again...Up/Under]
(00:01:22 – As we follow the birth and rise of these black college choirs… we will explore the formidable struggles of those black schools to survive, and to educate a newly-freed people fighting not only to maintain their freedom, but against great odds, in the battle to achieve the rights of full citizenship….
(Fisk Jubilee Singers ―Great Is Thy Faithfulness‖ back UP/fade under)…
From the end days of enslavement, to the present, the primary goal of all these black institutions has been to educate a people often not well served by society…. From the very beginning… their choirs have been pressed into service to reach that goal…. Those choirs have been ambassadors-
at-large --- the very embodiment of black colleges--- raising visibility… raising money to keep
the doors open… and attracting new students…. That legacy… that tradition… that mission… continues to this very day….
(Hampton Choir: R. Carter arrangement: ―Lift Every Voice and Sing‖ Up FULL/back under)
And yet… this tradition… this rich legacy… almost died at birth... This episode… ―The Early Legends‖… helps us recapture some of those remarkable individuals and events of the mid to late th19 Century….
[FISK ―My Lord What A morning‖…up full…Under]
Fisk University was the first… and the very start of their musical tradition was almost a disaster….
In 1866, Fisk was founded by the American Missionary Association with the purpose of educating the freed children of slaves….
…And to also fill the desperate need for properly trained and qualified black teachers…
From the beginning… the school encountered difficulties in the Tennessee, post-civil war climate.
DR. HEATHER WILLIAMS:
... slavery was about labor…
M. NORRIS: thDr. Heather Williams teaches 19 Century African American History at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill…
SOT DR. HEATHER WILLIAMS:
… And at the end of the war, planters now are threatened by losing their workforce, and so here it
is, black adults are talking about going to school. What are you talking about? If you go to school, you’re not going to be picking my cotton, or planting my corn, or whatever it is. (0.31:50??)
Suitable plots of land were suddenly unavailable when owners discovered the land would be used to educate freedmen….
But finally, because of the persistence and tenacity of one man, the buildings and land were acquired for the Fisk Free Colored School. It was named for General Clinton B. Fisk, assistant commissioner for the Freedmen’s Bureau for Tennessee and Kentucky…
[OAG Suspense-2 IN...Under]…
But the hostility against Fisk and other freedmen’s schools in Tennessee and across the south had only just begun….
Dr. Heather Williams….
SOT DR. HEATHER WILLIAMS:
… they come to the homes at night, they threaten them. They shoot them, they kill some of them. They kill teachers, black teachers get killed. Some white teachers get threatened. … and white people just wouldn’t talk to them. Wouldn’t let them board in their homes. (0.32:45??)
…the Ku Klux Klan rode through the middle of Nashville, Tennessee…
SOT DR. ERIC FONER:
Well, this is the era. We’ve heard about the Ku Klux Klan for example, which was founded
Dr. Eric Foner is Professor of History at Columbia University in New York City…He specializes thin 19 Century Americana History.. more specifically slavery, the Civil War era and the Reconstruction Period after the war.
SOT DR. ERIC FONER:
But it was just one of numerous such organizations. The word didn’t really exist then, but if you’re using today’s language, you would have to say these were terrorist organizations. This was home grown American terrorism. These were white supremacists who were using violence to try to undermine the new governments in the South and to try to push blacks back into a position of dependency and inequality.
But they did not deter people hungry for freedom, equality and education. The African American drive for reunification with lost family members was equally matched by the drive for education. When Fisk opened, students came by the hundreds.
… a mother is in there with her infant or with her young sons and daughters. And students are
walking miles, you know the things that people laugh about now, oh yeah, walked 5 miles to school. They seriously walked 5 miles, 10 miles, up hill, down hill. They hardly had proper clothing, So some of them are going to school in rags. Some of these children... but education is something to which... parents hang a lot of importance on education.
And so because it was predominantly the landless, newly freed poor who were crowding these new schools…. five years after it was founded… the Fisk School was running out of money, and was about to close… In desperation, school treasurer George White…came upon a novel idea for fundraising. It had never been done before.
DR. H. BOYER:
…on October 6, 1871, nine young men and women left the newly founded Fisk University that
hadn’t been founded until 1866 and this is 1871, they left the campus to go out and sing to raise money.
Dr. Horace Boyer is Professor Emeritus of African American Music at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst…and he is also the editor of the well known hymnal, Lift Every Voice and Sing…
The American Missionary Association had founded the school and they’d put some money in. But those children, even though they were the farmers. They were raising their own cattle, they were washing their own clothes, they were cleaning up. They still didn’t have enough money. and
George decided he’d teach them what we call light classics, you know.
When local concerts were successful, George White decided to take the singers on a fund-raising tour. He called them the Colored Christian Singers.
Now he’s from Ohio. So he’s using his speech. He tried to European-ize them as much as he
could because he said the sensibilities of the genteel society would not take these people seriously. So they left the campus on October 6, 1871….
The founders of the Fisk School originally were not willing to allow George White to take the singers on this tour. There were several things going on in those days, especially the fact that George White, being a white man, was going to take college children to travel and sing on concert stages and the founders of the school did not believe that there would be any success out of that. But George White was determined… took every money that was left in the coffers of the university, leaving, I think, one or two dollars, but some of his own money…. Because he had faith that he’d be able to do it.
The tour did not raise much money at first….Few people came to the concerts. Some had to be cancelled for lack of a place to perform ….But their fortune changed in the balcony of a Congregational church at a religious conference in Oberlin, Ohio. Dr. Boyer….
…. They called it the gallery during those days. And the galleries were at the back of the church and the congregation is sitting away from them, and I’ll tell you, and this is recorded, and the people were talking and visiting while they sang, well, I don’t know if they sang the sextet from
Lucia or the quartet from Rigoletto, but they were doing that kind of thing and the Fisk students rightly, these are black people, decided, well, if they’re not going to pay attention to us, let’s entertain ourselves. Let’s sing something that we enjoy.
(SOT; FISK JUBILEE SINGERS DOING ―STEAL AWAY already In/under)
That something… was ―Steal Away.‖
(FISK JUBILEE SINGERS/ ―STEAL AWAY….Fade Under..)
Steal Away to Jesus, and I’ll tell you this…. I wasn’t there, but I can almost hear them singing it, partly out of anger and partly out of remembering where their parents, where some of them had been and you can imagine the feeling that came into these people, because you know the African sensibility says put it on your shoulder, baby, let me understand. So you’re singing, I’ll tell you something. They said the noise began to come down in that congregational church, and all of a sudden you could hear soft weeping...
(SOT; FISK JUBILEE SINGERS/ ―STEAL AWAY‖ Up. to end/Applause…fade under)
And they applauded and carried on. They got more money that night than they had—and Mr.
White said, well you know, maybe we ought to pay attention to what we’re doing… you know, maybe we’d better change our repertoire and then they started singing these Negro Spirituals.
The tour was very successful in that that first tour raised $20,000. And that money was used in purchasing the land on which Fisk University stands today.
In 1873, that initial success emboldened George White to embark on a second tour, this time to Europe….He had already changed the Group’s name to the Fisk Jubilee Singers based on a dream he’d had about the ―Day of Jubilee‖ Song they were singing.
(FISK JUBILEE SINGERS…UP Full... Under..)
In Europe they were met with sold out performances and appreciative audiences….
(FISK JUBILEE SINGERS…UP Full...Under..)
They sang for English royalty including Queen Victoria… The Queen even had the royal Artist
do an oil portrait of the group—a painting that still hangs in the Appleton Room of Jubilee Hall on the Fisk University campus….
It was the best thing that ever happened to us, because Fisk by 1873 had raised $150,000. Well it may not have been by ’73, but it was close thereafter. $150,000 which they built Jubilee Hall with.
We will continue to sing this music, even though the way we sing it today may be different from the way the original singers sang it. We still sing the same melodies, arranged differently; same text and so we are reaching the hearts of people, not only sharing the culture with them, but also sharing very strong spiritual messages with people.
DR. ERIC FONER:
The quest for education was something
that was deeply ingrained in black culture.
Dr Eric Foner…
In slavery, it was illegal under the law, for a slave to learn how to read and write, but a number of slaves did… As Frederick Douglas said, they stole an education, you know….Some were taught by well meaning masters, some had there were some secret schools, which is pretty dangerous, you know. But most slaves didn’t have the option of getting an education. They came out of slavery illiterate, etc…. One of the things they did, even before the Freedman’s Bureau, even before northern Reconstruction was the that local communities throughout the South pooled their
resources, which weren’t very extensive, to hire a teacher to get a school, to build a school…. Northern missionary groups, sent down money to help build schools.
In the 1700s the town of Hampton Virginia had been a successful tobacco shipping port. As crops diversified, Hampton grew steadily in the 1800s. But passage of a very draconian Fugitive Slave Law in 1850 made life for all blacks… free and enslaved… very precarious.
(OAG: UNDERSCORE: ―Battle Theme In/Under…)
It also deepened the rift between North and South over the slavery/abolition issue…a gulf neither
side would try to bridge.
John Brown’s 1859 raid at Harper’s Ferry- a direct result of that Fugitive Slave Act- ultimately
led to the southern attack on Fort Sumpter and the start of the US Civil War in April of 1861. At Hampton, as elsewhere, everything drastically changed.
On May 24, 1861, Union General Benjamin F. Butler, Commander in Chief at Fort Monroe near
Hampton, issued an order stating that slaves were to be considered contrabands of war. Dr. Heather Williams expands on this in her latest book, Self-Taught:
Even before they were officially free, black people became what were called contrabands of war, so that General Butler made an argument. Some black men presented themselves to him in Hampton, at Fortress Monroe in Virginia, and said, our owners are about to send us South, to South Carolina to build fortifications for the Confederates. And if you don’t do something about it, we’re going to end up working for your enemy. And so Butler came up with this argument that said, these people are the property of our enemies, therefore, because we’re at war, we can seize the property of our enemies, like we might seize a ship or a horse or whatever, and so these people then became contrabands of war. And even in those contraband camps, you see them setting up schools. And whoever is able to teach is teaching.
As Negroes learned they would not be returned to their masters, thousands flocked from surrounding areas to the Union lines at Fort MONROE--- and Camp Hamilton-- the Union hospital that would later become the site of Hampton University.
They came in search of the same things that had inspired the escape of the original ―contraband‖ -
that is- freedom.
Confederate General John B. Magruder’s response to Butler’s contraband order was an order of
his own: to burn Hampton to the ground.;
(NATSOT FX OF ROARING FLAMES UP FULL…then under)…
Only five houses survived the destruction, and Hampton became a squatter’s town with shanties, tents and lean-tos built among the ruins…
This is Every Voice And Sing! I’m Michele Norris.
00:19:06.............FIRST SHOW BREAK............00:19:06
00:19:36 (HAMPTON CHOIR ―Give Me Jesus‖.Up / Under…)
While the Federal government provided some quarters and rations… the majority of freedmen
received nothing…. Thankfully, the pitiful conditions came to the attention of citizens in the North and the American Missionary Association was among the first to establish a school ….
The newly freed slaves had an almost religious desire for education! In fact, in the History of the Freedman’s Bureau… a Union army chaplain reported overhearing a black servant congratulating himself on having completed a lesson:
John Green, you have it! You can read!
John Green, you are a man!
Hampton Choir Director, Royzell Dillard…
I am told that that first classroom is under the Emancipation Oak…. Right next to the oak tree… there is a small school house that is erected where Mary Peake did do some of her early work ….
Mary Peake was a free black woman who operated a school for black children and adults in Hampton prior to the Civil War. She also taught for the American Missionary Association, until her death in 1862-- the same year THE EMANCIPATION PROCLAMATION was signed...
VOICE #2 (LINCOLN): ndWhereas on the 22 day of September AD 1862, a proclamation was issued by the President of the United States containing, among other things the following, to wit:
―That on the first day of January AD 1863, all persons held as slaves within any state or
designated part of a state the people whereof shall then be in rebellion against the United States shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free…
A call to freedom that took effect in January, 1863….
With the Emancipation Proclamation in place, there were now more than four million slaves suddenly removed from a condition of total dependence. They now needed to rely on their own resources for their total existence...
(OAG:‖Family Theme‖ already in...UP...back under)
And what they wanted most, was to find and reunite with their missing loved ones, and, just as important-- a good education.
In 1863 Union General Benjamin Butler, Commander at Fort Monroe built the Butler School for Negro Children with government funds at a cost of $10,000. Six hundred children attended the one room Butler School. They were ages 5 to 24, and they were the children of local Freedmen. It was the precursor of what would become the Hampton Institute in another five years…
Royzell L. Dillard has been the Director of Choirs at Hampton University for the past seventeen years…
Hampton was founded in 1868 by Brigadier General by the name of Samuel Chapman Armstrong… and has been educating blacks from that time on since then…
Hampton was a large farm in Hampton Roads, and the Emancipation Proclamation was read under the tree that we call the Emancipation Oak. It’s one of the oldest trees in this country… And it has been educating both blacks, and in the beginning years, Native Americans, and still has an obligation to Native Americans should they want to come to Hampton.
Originally established as a ―normal‖ school… meaning to establish standards or norms while educating teachers… it was first known as Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute.
Typical of other predominantly black colleges and universities--as with many HBCUs--Hampton received much of its financial support in the years following the Civil War from church groups and former officers and soldiers of the Union Army…. Dr. Williams….
I also found black men actually physically building schools, black men who were in the army would give of their funds. There was a particular regiment in Arkansas, but I also saw in Missouri, where Lincoln University was set up initially by some black soldiers. They gave money from ththeir pay and the men in Arkansas in this particular in 56 Regiment in Arkansas, bought the land,
they bought the lumber, and then they went out and built the school.
One of the many Civil War veterans who gave substantial sums to HAMPTON was General William Jackson Palmer, a Union cavalry commander from Philadelphia… He later built the Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad, and founded Colorado Springs, Colorado. The current Palmer Hall on the Hampton campus is named in his honor.
The black colleges continued. They’d all been set up during Reconstruction… places like Fisk... you know… and Alcorn, and Southern… and you name them… still around today… Hampton…
Dr. Eric Foner….
They got a lot of their money from the North… from philanthropists in the North…. So black education was precarious and it was not funded well.
With the same growing pains and financial problems
as Fisk, Hampton quickly adopted the Fisk model for fund raising….Royzell Dillard….
Well shortly after Fisk University, of course, sent Jubilee Singers out, a number of black colleges that were beginning to be founded also found that it was a good idea to send singers out to raise money for the university….
th(HAMPTON: ―67 Psalm‖…UP/UNDER)
Hampton was no different in that aspect. It sent out a group of singers called the Hampton Singers…and they went around the country helping to raise funds for the university.
Music played an important part in the life of the students from the very beginning…. Early records show that singing was included in almost every curriculum….
(Segue to ―Ave Maria‖ Under)
They sang all kinds of music… ranging from the basic standard European classical… (SOT
Hampton Choir ―Ave Maria‖ UpFull/back under, and segue to:)
to the traditional spirituals… as other schools were doing….
(―Give Me Jesus‖ UP FULL…Under…)
They gave about five hundred concerts, traveled thousands of miles and performed for numerous dignitaries including President Ulysses S. Grant at the White House in 1873. They pulled in ten-thousand dollars that first year. A visit to one small town in Massachusetts in their second year produced an individual gift of another $10,000 to build Whitlin Chapel in Virginia Hall.
One of our historic buildings on campus which is a female residence hall called Virginia Cleveland Hall-- or Virginia Hall-- was literally sung up with the funds raised by the early Hampton Singers.
And those traditions still continue today with the concert choir being the primary touring institution for the university, and we still help raise funds. Not quite in the way they were done then, but through scholarship development for alumni associations and what not. Funds are still generated for students to attend Hampton.
…(Really) it’s a majestic testament to God’s might that something so beautiful could be sustained
Professor Dillard summed up the musical tradition at Hampton … AND… the historic oak tree….
... still there… still thriving… still doing…. It’s made it through hurricanes, and all kinds of other weather conditions and it’s still gowing strong...
(MUSIC FULL UP AND THEN FADES….)
(OAG: FAMILY THEME IN/UNDER)
The Emancipation Proclamation in 1863 freed African Americans in rebel states, and after the Civil War, the Thirteenth Amendment emancipated all US slaves wherever they were. As a result, the mass of southern blacks faced the difficulty that northern blacks had already confronted-- that of a free people surrounded by unfriendly, often hostile whites.
After a promising start in the early Reconstruction era, the nation failed miserably to deal with protecting and guaranteeing full citizenship for its newly freed black population…
In 1867…some five hundred miles southwest of Hampton, Virginia--in Augusta, Georgia--
William J. White and Richard Coulter--a former slave-- founded the Augusta Institute to train male teachers and preachers of the Gospel…
(―See What The End Will Be‖ UP Full..Under)
It was supported and sponsored by the American Baptist Home Mission Society… an organization involved in the development of several colleges for blacks in the nineteenth century…
But financial troubles forced the school to close on several occasions. One of the school’s early leaders, the Rev. W D Siegfried was forced out of the community after writing a letter to a northern newspaper protesting the treatment of blacks by local whites.
DR. IAN STRAKER:
you have to understand that many of these schools were being established in the South ….
Dr. Ian Straker is Assistant Professor of Church History at Howard University’s Divinity
…and having them be established in the South meant that the, it was happening in the midst of a still a hostile environment, and so... if you end up having a building where people are meeting and learning, you know, it was a potential target for arson and other sorts of things. So again it wasn’t always easy.
(―See What The End Will Be‖ UP Full..Under)
But by 1897, the Augusta Institute had found a more stable and permanent home in Atlanta. By then it was known as the Atlanta Baptist Seminary.
The final name change came in 1913….
Morehouse College… in honor of Henry L. Morehouse… the corresponding secretary of the American Baptist Home Mission Society.
Today… Morehouse College is the largest of the five remaining all male undergraduate
institutions in the United States. It graduates more African American males than any other school in the country. It has a reputation for producing not only outstanding leaders in all walks of life, but, also has one of the finest Choral Musical Groups anywhere….
(―See What The End Will Be‖ UP..to conclusion…)
Dr. David Morrow is Director of the Morehouse College Glee Club and associate professor in the Music Department.