Song of the 1st of Arkansas (1864)

This rewrite of “Battle-Hymn of the Republic” puts the agency of social and economic upheaval squarely on the shoulders — or rather, under the boot-heels — of Colored Troops.

Jim Crow (Rice, 1830)

If we can hold our immediate revulsion at the (now offensive) language, we’ll find some shocking critique and surprisingly liberal views in the lyrics…

Swing Low, Sweet Chariot (Willis, 1850s?)

Wallis Willis created the song “Swing Low Sweet Chariot” sometime before 1862; we like to pair it with this 1862 photograph by Concord, NH’s own H.P Moore.

Ring, Ring De Banjo (Foster, 1851)

Frederick Douglass (1845) ~ “Slaves sing most when they are most unhappy. The songs of the slave represent the sorrows of his heart; and he is relieved by them, only as an aching heart is relieved by its tears…”

Angelina Baker (Foster, 1850)

Stephen C. Foster ~ Letter to E. P. Christy (May 25, 1852) ~ “As I once intimated to you, I had the intention of omitting my name* on my Ethiopian songs, owing to the prejudice against them by some, which might injure my reputation as a writer of another style of music…”