Going through the Storm: The Influence of African American Art in History

Paperback | July 1, 1984

bySterling Stuckey

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Upon his arrival in the North, Frederick Douglass found, to his utter astonishment, "persons who could speak of the singing among slaves as the evidence of their contentment and happiness." As late as 1903, W.E.B. Du Bois observed that African American spirituals had led naive whites tobelieve that "life was joyous to the black slave, careless and happy." While these misconceptions have largely disappeared, the history of African American culture--and its importance to American history as a whole--is still a subject little understood by the majority of Americans. In Going Through the Storm, Sterling Stuckey offers a compelling look at one of the world's richest cultural traditions. He traces the fertile legacy of African American art from its roots in tribal myth, through its blossoming in slave music and dance, to its fruition in the greatgospel-singing movements of the 1960s. In the process he shows how this tradition, grounded as it was in adversity, represents one of the great triumphs of the human spirit: slaves and their descendants, by way of Negro spirituals, the blues, and jazz, transformed the pain of oppression into atranscendent and timeless beauty. And, as he explores these various styles, Stuckey reveals that the development of a distinctive African American aesthetic follows (and helps illuminate) the course of the nation's history. In a series of engaging, lucidly written essays, Going through the Storm covers the entire spectrum of African American culture, offering along the way many fresh and important insights. Within the context of slavery and slave music, Stuckey presents a new look at the foundations of blacknationalism and the civil rights movement. In his eloquent reflections on Paul Robeson, he shows how black art offers a commentary on the human spirit so genuine and resonant that its appeal has reached across the boundaries of race to touch most of humanity. Writing of Herman Melville, hedemonstrates how the great novelist was struck with the importance of African culture in history--and the reciprocal relationship of history to African culture--and carefully explored this theme in Benito Cereno. Frederick Douglass is presented for the first time as a major theorist of AfricanAmerican culture, one whose thought is profoundly relevant to our current debates on culture and race. And, perhaps most important, Stuckey explains that because black artists have been deeply interested for so long in the question of oppression, their art is of particular use to historians. Inwhat amounts to nothing less than a revolutionary approach, Stuckey considers the uses of music as history, arguing that an easing of barriers between academic disciplines will lead to a better understanding of human life in general. A timely, readable, and often moving volume, Going Through the Storm not only expands our understanding of black music, dance, literature, and folklore, but provides a new vantage point from which to view the entire landscape of American culture.

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From Our Editors

Going Through the Storm covers the entire spectrum of African American culture, presenting a new look at the foundations of black culture and the civil right movement within the context of slavery and slave music. In an eloquent reflection of Paul Robeson, he shows how black art has reached across the boundaries of race to touch most o...

From the Publisher

Upon his arrival in the North, Frederick Douglass found, to his utter astonishment, "persons who could speak of the singing among slaves as the evidence of their contentment and happiness." As late as 1903, W.E.B. Du Bois observed that African American spirituals had led naive whites tobelieve that "life was joyous to the black slave,...

From the Jacket

Going Through the Storm covers the entire spectrum of African American culture, presenting a new look at the foundations of black culture and the civil right movement within the context of slavery and slave music. In an eloquent reflection of Paul Robeson, he shows how black art has reached across the boundaries of race to touch most o...

Sterling Stuckey is Professor of History and Religious Studies at the University of California, Riverside. He is also the author of Slave Culture (Oxford, 1987).

other books by Sterling Stuckey

Format:PaperbackDimensions:320 pages, 9.17 × 6.06 × 0.87 inPublished:July 1, 1984Publisher:Oxford University Press

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:019508604X

ISBN - 13:9780195086041

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From Our Editors

Going Through the Storm covers the entire spectrum of African American culture, presenting a new look at the foundations of black culture and the civil right movement within the context of slavery and slave music. In an eloquent reflection of Paul Robeson, he shows how black art has reached across the boundaries of race to touch most of humanity.

Editorial Reviews

"Plenty of history and culture of all Afro-American artistic endeavors is included in a study which will attract readers seeking to link Afro-American culture and history with artistic evolution."--Diane C. Donovan, The Midwest Book Review