digital humanities · gentrification · migration · teaching · Uncategorized

Students make amazing playlist

Yesterday was the first day of class for the 2016-17 school year and I am already  pleased. The students enrolled in the “American Civilization to 1865” survey showed up ready to learn and contribute. So did the students enrolled in  “Bebop to Hip Hop: Young America and Music,” an upper level course. In fact, the latter class hit the ground running by listening to a lecture introducing them to key themes concerning life in the United States since World War and then – get this – curating a song mix for one of those themes: black migration.

Essentially, the students were asked to first, think of the song that would be on heavy rotation if they were to put all of their worries behind them via a roadtrip. Next, the students were invited to look at the faces of real-life people who left the South, the North and the Caribbean not for the north, but instead for a place farther South:  South Florida. I asked them to imagine what a soundtrack for such movement would look like. I was blown away by the degree to which they could intuit the uncertainty and joy of such individuals who arrived from places like Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, the Carolinas, Michigan, New York, Haiti and the Bahamas.

Their curated list will be featured on a poster alongside a multi-screen digital art installation inspired by my research on prewar and postwar black migration to South Florida to be presented 6-7:30pm August 29 at the Dinah Washington Cultural Arts Center, 620 Greensboro Ave., in Tuscaloosa.

See the featured Youtube clip for a glimpse at the multi-screen installation that features visual and auditory pieces.

Special thanks to the participants in the interviews I have been conducting since December 2013 for sharing your stories with others. I am grateful for the chance to share what I am learning in and outside the classroom with broad audiences and academic ones. I present my next papers on racial and spatial politics in Miami at the Urban History Association’s annual meeting in Chicago in October and at the Southern Historical Association’s annual meeting, which will be held in St. Petersburg, Florida, in November. Another event is being planned for presentation in South Florida next Spring Break. I am also revising my first peer reviewed article on the topic. And then back to reading the secondary literature and discovering new primary sources. I’ll be playing the mix the students created for inspiration, too. I am lucky to work such incredible young people who immediately got what the first leg of a bigger project is all about.

Here are the students’ playlists:

The Rearview Mix

Maybe This Will Be My Year – Train

Uranium Rock – The Cramps

Like a Rocket – Reverend Horton Heat

See The World – Gomez

Let it Go – James Bay

Phantom Limb – The Shins

Summertime Sadness – Lana Del Rey

Ghost Rider – Rush

Going to California – Led Zeppelin

Devil’s Pie – D’Angelo

Controlla – Drake

It’s My Life – Bon Jovi

Electric Feel – MGMT

Let Me Go – Cake

Buffalo Soldier – Bob Marley

Summer Friends – Chance the Rapper

One Love – Bob Marley

Bohemian Rhapsody – Queen

Wanna Be Us – Lil Yachty featuring Burnberry Perry

1979 – Smashing Pumpkins

Keep on Singing My Song – Christina Aguilera

No Problem – Chance the Rapper

Alexander Hamilton – Hamilton, The Musical soundtrack

Still Here – Drake

Can’t Stop the Feeling! – Justin Timberlake

Alone in My Home – Jack White

Eye of the Tiger – Survivor

Thinking Out Loud – Ed Sheeran

Real Love Baby- Father John Misty

Sweet Home Alabama – Lynyrd Skynyrd

When the Stars Come Out – Chris Stapleton

Take It to the Limit – The Eagles

44 Bars – Logic


The Migrating Body Mix

Big Rivers – Johnny Cash and the Tennessee Two

Maybe – Sick Puppies

I Ain’t Got Nobody – Hattie Ellis

People Make the World Go Around – Marc Dorsey

FourFiveSeconds – Rihanna featuring Kayne West and Paul McCartney

Old Man River – Jim Croce

Love in Vain – Rolling Stones

Mississippi Poor Boy – The Canton Spirituals

Danny Brown – 25 Bucks featuring Purity Ring

Home Sweet Home – Motley Crue

Move On Up – Curtis Mayfield

The Gambler – fun

If I Was President – Wyclef Jean

That Power – Childish Gambino

Girls – The 1975

Straight Outta Compton – N.W.A.

Pursuit of Happiness  – Kid Cudi

Blessed – ScHoolboy Q featuring Kendrick Lamar

Runaway – Kanye West

Blackbird – The Beatles

Never Gonna Break My Faith – Aretha Franklin and Mary J. Blige

Alright – Kendrick Lamar

A Change is Gonna Come – Sam Cooke

Landslide – Dixie Chicks

Mary – Patty Griffin

New York – Jay-Z featuring Alice Keys

Every Teardrop is a Waterfall – Coldplay

Hood Politics – Kendrick Lamar

Amazing Grace – any version

As Crazy As It Is – ZHU x A-Trak x Keznamdi

What’s Going On – Marvin Gaye

Homecoming – Kanye West

C.R.E.A.M. – Wu Tang Clan


Special thanks to Kayla Branum, Cecilia Bullard, Ian Burt, Sally Dilick, Laine Elliott, Deven Feldstein, Krystal Fitzgerald, Clint Garrett, Ariella Gibson, Locke Galbraith, Michael Golloucis, Brittany Groves, Jonathan Hancock, Lauren Johnson, Anthony Lipscomb, Rita McWilliams, Blake Niedenthal, Katherine Ott, David Reahl, Brandon Redmond, Alex Rodriguez, Madison Schwartz, Peter Schultz, Hailey Spencer, Turner Spurlin, Mike Tunaitis and the students who participated anonymously. Special thanks also to the University of Alabama Summersell Center for the Study of the South, the Department of History and College of Arts and Sciences.

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