From the Dungeons to the Stage
Marian Anderson was the first African-American to sing a song in the Metropolitan Opera House in the year 1955.
Culture is a broad term, which is a fine mix of the various facets of the activities that people engage themselves in. But it is not stagnant; it is rather flexible and expansive in nature. Therefore, multiple cultures also diffuse together to form a unique cultural mix. The African-American culture too, is such a culture, which has undergone vast changes in the past to be what it is today. The ills like slavery have been long abolished, and the stings associated with it are also deemed non-existent in today's US. But unfortunately, perhaps, stigmas like racism still flourish in all walks of life, even if it is in small numbers. The adjectives like 'blacks', and 'colored people' came into existence because of this inequality, and are still prevalent, though the African-American culture has made advancements in leaps and bounds. It wouldn't be wrong to say that where slavery ended, racism started. Also, owing to the various studies, it is the general consensus that America is one of the many countries, where the divorce rates are relatively high, and the concept of single parent is also on the higher side. It is believed that this is more prevalent in the African-American culture.
HISTORY OF THE AFRICAN-AMERICAN CULTURE ... AND THE ROAD ONWARDS
The primary cause for the flourishing of this culture can be attributed to slavery, which was active during the Atlantic Slave Trade.
Secondly, racial discrimination shaped the course of this culture. This distinct culture developed under strenuous conditions, when thousands of native Africans were displaced from their original home, and transported against their will to English colonies, French colonies, and later to the US. They were hardy groups of people, and even under unfavorable conditions, declined to give up their original culture. This resulted in the adoption of their own culture in the Americans too. This reflects in the food, music, art, costume, styling, and the like. Two dominant fields where African culture merged into the American culture are as follows:
During the slavery period, the displaced Africans made use of the available resources, which could become good food for survival and sustenance. It mainly consisted of vegetables. Though these foods were introduced by the minority, they were here to stay for longer times in the US. Today, they have been gladly accepted in the US. There are several food items like okra, melons, potatoes, and cabbage, which were eaten only by the Africans. Also, their seasoning was very limited, so much so that it consisted of the parts of flesh, which were not considered edible.
American music is highly juxtaposed with African music forms, pop music, soulmusic, jazz, rap, rhythm and blues, all of which reflect the African musical tinge. But the situation was not this rosy during earlier times. In fact, the Americans and the Europeans treated their form of music, as something that was non-music, barbaric, and uncivilized in nature. The blues genre of songs are the ones that were inspired from the songs that the slaves used to sing, mainly the ones that narrated the tyranny they endured. They were the songs of melancholy and distress.
FACTS ABOUT THE AFRICAN-AMERICAN CULTURE
The beginning of the 16th century marked the commencement of slavery.
In order to celebrate the many contributions made by numerous personalities of the black community, historian Carter G. Woodson introduced the celebration of Black History Week, way back in 1926. Over the years, this celebration gained popularity, and was then expanded from a week-long celebration to a month long one.
The Black History month is annually celebrated in the month of February, with the first being celebrated in February 1970.
Countries celebrating The Black History month are the US, Canada, the UK, and Germany.
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) was formed in 1909, in an effort to safeguard the rights of all and also to stop racial discrimination.
Terms like soul food and soul music were coined in order to celebrate the Black culture. These terms became common in the 1960s, and thereafter.
Slavery in America was abolished in the year 1865, following the 13th Amendment of the constitution.
The first black to win the Pulitzer Prize was Gwendolyn Brooks.
Africans made various musical instruments like rattles, banjos, and drums with the help of vegetables like gourds.
But in the prevailing scenario, it can be well concluded that from being the outcast minorities, the Africans are now able to make a strong base in America, and have also been able to be a part of a more urbanized culture, in contrast to the outcast situation they earlier faced, thanks to the strong influence it had on the American culture, in music and food, not barring outfits.