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thisbecauseit'sbeen the postso the first question is the talkabout the founding of this really in a world where menchristian nation fisk university was founded by the americanmissionary association a group that had organized the end andrebellion in a sense because they felt that other christian missionary organizations were notas dedicated and canyou say that again the american missionary association
felt like other christian organizations that were doing friedman's education andrelief auburn not as as dedicated to the causes as they wanted them tobe for example they often accepted money from southern plantation owners and theyfelt that that tainted the whole purpose for being so theama the american missionary association i wanted to come with their organizational bepure so to speak and that they had were not tainted with southern plantationmoney so that's why they formed and when they went south right on the heels of the union orarmy to open up our education institutions for the blacks they felt that this was theprimary avenues through which african americans and newly newly freed blackscould rise in society and better themselves so educationwas their main purpose for going to a couple that they had a second goal and that waschristianity they believed that two things would help the newly freed blackseducation and christianity and so throughout their entire existence
those two ideals were coupled togetheronce maybe to evangelizethey went south yes to saythey went south to bring education and to bring christianity so they wereevangelistic from the very beginning and a couple that with the educational effortsto thatpoint with thiswhen they may found that fisk university on they opened upeducational opportunities for all blacks in the area's therefore they had students there from agefive to seventy four sitting in the same classroom for everyone wanted toavail themselves of education but it was also a christian organization theyhave prayer meetings they had regular chapel services armthis hold christian atmosphere permeated the institution
they were very excited when they sent back reports of some of the ironout breaking news of a revival movement so to speak that happened on the campusconversions all those factored into the reports of the teachers would sing back to me i'm a headquarterswhat kind ofclimate you start kind of those years was as there isto talk about a little bit about the services permitsbut also just educationalit's a very different environment at fisk university them what we would imagine today and collegesone reason that that is especially so is that so many of the teachers boardedand lived right there with their students and that was very different then and beenmany other places even within the country up north and other institutions wherenecessarily the it wasn't common always for the teachers to live with thestudents that was required at fisk university because the northern
missionary teachers couldn't find accommodations anywhere else southerners would let them in whenkeep them onboard them so they had to live on a campus with the students of course icreated a different atmosphere they not only were teaching their studentson facts and figures and knowledge but they were alsoin a sense a cold trading them and teaching them how to liveand how to be and what a proper manners and water proper wasproper etiquette sos sosit's very much a community atmosphere and in a sense that alsofostered real strong relationships between teachers and their students it was a familyatmosphere with strict rules and regulations that is veryactive his behavior was mandated and controlled certainlythat that was not uncommon for a lot of institutions during this era
what kind of do you know whatkind of glassesnow there have been a lot of talk aboutthat the sameexperience and that theygo out across the horrible that's right about the chargesright above all rightwill fisk university you know what this university was established an abandonedhospital barracks so the buildings from the very onset weren't thebest scenario they weren't it wasn't the best environment to house an institutionand it was already starting to deteriorate with deteriorate within a few years and so youhave the wind whistling through the cracks in the walls and i it's
cold and and teachers and students alike are suffering together everyone suffertogether if it was good it was good for everyone it was bad it was bad for everyoneand that was the case at fisk so when when funds became tight and they didn'thave enough money you havestudents and teachers alike being called the food was goodit was this incredible problem with the cook andso they bring this cook on again and we startovercast as being too conversationalist they have these incredibleproblems with the cuts and every was no one was complaining about the foodthat the meat was tainted that there were these insects that theywould find in their food it was just bad infact george why rights that have their problems are due to sour stomachseveryone was complaining about the food and see if you're in higher education you know the two things are
important parking and the food and the food was not good atwhere the parking but the food was not good so so that became the majorsource of contention and grumbling in quarrelingwas that wisea lot of factors play into the reason that that the financial problemsbecame a reality for one thing giving the ama as a missionaryorganization and rick and relied upon giving to find itsoperations time giving was intense during when that when the abolitionistsmovement was at its peak of course once the war was one time people were notonly suffering from the effects of war financially but also the innocencethat the cause has been one so giving tapered off a bitthen too the ama had found in many schools for blacks so their funds were beingspread around to more than just one organization also what happens is
that this never lacked for interest of students coming to theinstitution and they've had difficulty times collecting the tuitionso george white took on the responsibility as treasurer to send outnumerous letters trying to collect money from students who are behind in their tuitionwell blacks were necessarily wealthy and although to issue is low it was still a problempaying the bill and then too many students would go out and teach in the summerin different as surrounding communities and they would teach it in some of the publicschools for blacks and the county was supposed to pay them well the county didn'talways pay so the steelers would have gone out and they were during their tuition for the nextsemester supposedly but when they came back they had no moneyto tell you somethingelse about the food that's kind of funny i just read this recently at one point
i'm a doctor advised the un administrators at fiskthat perhaps mark what might help this entire situation with the food in thisour stomachs is if they would separate the teachers from the students so that the teachers would have to monitorthe students during the male time and that the teachers male time to be more of a social hour andperhaps that would help the entiresomewhere when your digestive system and what's importantwhat's the word that when you're hereit helped their digestive said okand at one point the doctor advisedsome of the administrators at fisk that perhaps a way to help alleviate theproblems with the sour stomachs would be to separate the teachers from the students during mealtimepreviously the teachers always a with the students and they were also in charge of monitoring
the air cafeteria so to speak that the doctor thought perhaps ifthey were to separate and make the teachers male time more of a social hour then that would help theirdigestive systems and they would be able to tolerate the field betterhe saysthey really don't have very muchandy can pay the coal bills that have a heated as the so calledsurge ofgeorge white as treasurer was responsible of course for bringing in all ofthe necessary items to find the institution he had greatdifficulty providing enough coal for heat the cost of coal had risenand he just the fines weren't there i amsome provisions just the daily provisions call for heating food for thecafeteria he was skipping everywhere to try to save about and
keep the institution afloat ashe's also playing other people who committedthose numbers might sue you mentioned that and i don't know how much of that i'm notaware of how much of that is because iguess i did then maybe not so muchof that is true but there's something that i don't know if we can even uses gaza you need toresearch to see if it's truewhen george white came to fisk yes george whitecame to fisk initially as a teacher as a music teacherit wasn't until the year after he had been involved with institution that he assumed the roleof treasure annie kept up his is out working with a choir
he was a teacher of music in penmanship annie was excellent bothand lateras time went on his choir improved isevidence of that acquire improved the financial situation deterioratedso the question remains how much of that possibly he was due to hislack of skill as a treasure i'm not confident that he was thebest a running the finances but as things deteriorated fromhis correspondence is evident that he take feels personally responsible for thatand to white the best thing that happened if they ask the only thing that it happenedyesterday brought in money was his choir they had performed a couple of concerts in thearea and they they always raised many maybe notalways enough to two and maybe they didn'traise prices again they may not always raised enough money
to clear expenses they didn't necessarily turn a profit but they mademany it was the only thing in school that made money so there was two sourcesof income that white knew about one was the ama and the giving and its supportand the other source of income was his choir so i think it's a naturalconclusion for george white to see the choir as a potential vehicle for fundraisingfor the institution and he definitely felt responsible for thefinancial situation of fisk he was embarrassed by his ownfailure to make it work and that surfaces in his letters all the timejust to gosailing in the center of what wasgoing on the person ensemble castthat is george white
felt personally responsible for the financial deterioration of fisk universityin his letters he says over and over again that is was embarrassed by the condition the financialcondition of the college and so he he felti sayagaingeorge whiteobviously felt personally responsible for the financial condition of the institutionand in his letters he often mentions how embarrassing is about hisinability to make the institution financially secure that service isover and over andnow he has this or so yes i did do it it does feel stupid andyou know i did diaz this idea whathe has decided to make the choir yeah
so i'm sort of a little bit about what the music thechoir is this who is a lot of tensionand then right george why hadfounded historian george white had formed a choir from the students oncampus they gave the path of their lunch hour to meet in his office and singsongs he was he had had a lot of experience as a choir director he hadhad it was noted for his singing schools back in ohio before he had ever joined thesquirrel hunters and fought in the civil war so he was a natural thing for him to forma choir at fisk universitywhen he his choir thoughwallace stevens at fisk university took singing lessons or pitches abated inmusic george why was very careful to choose just a select one city one for his choirso is very selective of the voices he chose the choir that he formed to performs around
nashville in the nashville area several times and had gotten rave reviews from local criticsthey did a couple of concerts in the masonic hall and then hestarted working on a drama i can tata is fully staged and costumedesther by george handel george frederic handel andi'm rambling and they said again butthe students the student but also with themthesebright young people a senseof him when george white pulled the selective voices toform his choir i think it's important to remember that weknew that they were ranged in age you had students as young asthirteen fourteen fifteen up into their twenties they gave of their time to form thischoir and he began by teaching generally on
quote white man's music they performed where they learnedopera chorus is balance popular tunes of the daycore literature that was very popular for other choirs to be singing during this timewhat was interesting though is that the students would oftenspontaneously use that time to sing some of the old spirituals andwhite listened he heard this and he loved the music and he encouraged them to singthis in their early concerts spirituals and not feature are not featured on theprograms as it happensthey have very mixed feelings about theirmisgivings about why singing ofthe spirituals was encouraged by white that the students did have mixed feelings about whether or not theyshould even perform these works and there's a variety of reasons for that
i am spell a shepherd remarks at one point thatinitially the spirituals representative in the dark days of slavery theshameful days of slavery and at the same time they were sacredbecause they were the songs that their parents and their ancestors had sung in theirreligious meetings and so there was this tension between thesong the spirit shows being sacred in religious and but also representing atime that they wanted to leave behind so they were not keen on the idea ofsinging spirituals in public george white had to sort of pull that out of them andencourage them singing the spirit as an public became a lot moreeasy for it became easier singing the spirit as inpublic became easier for the fisk jubilee singers after they saw the way audiences responded to themespecially the spirituals would bring about the
deepest emotional reactions from their audiences people were moved to tearsand that they're held meaning for them for the jubilee singersthink it changed in a sense whenyou think about what did it meani think for this jubileesingers to see their audience is so moved by the song'sme thinking from anarticle there aresevere hoarders ellis a riottoday that initially to the jubilee singersthe spirituals represented the dark days of slavery and they were shameful in asense to them at least early nothing to be shared with public shared in public
he said again to a stumblingand they're silly to jubilee singers thespirituals represented the dark days of slavery the shameful days of their pastas they were reluctant to sing them in public but as they were encouraged todo so and once they did so they saw this emotional reaction from their audienceand i think in time they came to realize that the spirituals represented morethan just their own individual pastthat like in the words of web dubois those lesson that againthat those boys were poor or found my bestis that google io and it isn'teven say that voice on a role asyou need to be ok initially to the jubilee singers the spirituals
represented the dark days of slavery the shameful days of their past butonce they sang them in public and they saw this emotional reaction from their audience and they saw theway that the audience is moved to tears and how well enjoyed they wereand what meaning they had i think they began to revive wages what the spiritualcement the boys once said that the spirituals represented the cry ofhumanity and i think in a sense that's what they came to realize that thisbut the spiritual was was that a musical representation of morethen just their past while was true that was the past it was more than that there was meaning and that theycould be found and felt by all kinds of people and all colors peopletesco cool when you think aboutitwell so what's sowhat's yours the
further and that the institution got the more solid george white the moresure he became of his decision the further thefind of the day that the fire there in that fisk universitygot the more sure george white became that taking his choir out tosing was a good idea hehe felt confident that if they could justgo out and saying that they would raise funds he was very visionary he gave avery entrepreneurial and so he could see that that there was money to be had bytaking a trip out with a surly a novel idea for the ama and not one that theywere very eager to support for avariety of reasons first of all i'msinging i'm ok there are avariety of reasons that the ama weren't necessarily supportive of george white's idea
first of all they had george what was going to get a target audience oflove ah that has what i hate to start this again that's going to takeall day rightwell we got a net return about why this choirgeneral why not start with this why was the opposition to jewishliturgy for alot of us initially but they've come to support military mycell phonethe ama of course is not very supportive of george white'sidea is very novel yet understand that during this time singinggroups did not appear in church that was a and a newidea secondly george white wanted to targetmainly white christian audiences and generally the audiences he was going to be
searching for were the same audiences at the ama already a appealed tofor support so it was a bit of a conflict of interest in the same audience would haveto support the jubilee singers as well as give to the ama and ama officials werebit reluctant about the whole idea that there's even more to it than thatblack singers did not appear on stageduring his era except in the minstrel show and the minstrel show was a verystereotypical and derogatory image of african americans good upstanding christianpeople did not go to these kinds of entertainment'sso there's this whole idea of of africanamericans standing up in a church service and singing andthe ama and it was a novel idea so to the ama that was a lot here that they had tocontend with the whole idea of as this is entertainment are we
are we getting a little too worldly here and the idea ofare we taxing the same audience for finesand then and then just a hole opens the logistics of whether or not it would even workwell there's also a questionthat's true certainly discrimination andracism was surly prevalent and theama had also consider whether or not they could find that fund the enterprisecare for the students and what kind of i'mwhat good would it do for the students also there was this whole idea of the scene is were thereto be displaying education and we're taking him out of the educationarena and taking them on tour so how are they going to deal with that andhouses going to continue their causefb
This record is featured in “Jubilee Singers Interviews.”
American Experience
Jubilee Singers: Sacrifice and Glory
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Interview with Toni Anderson, Music Historian
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Toni Anderson Interview about a group of young ex- slaves in Nashville, Tennessee, who set out on a mission to save their bankrupt school by giving concerts. Traveling first through cities in the North, then on to venues across Europe, the Jubilee Singers introduced audiences to the power of spirituals, the religious anthems of slavery. Driven to physical collapse and even death, the singers proved more successful - and more inspirational - than anyone could have imagined.
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American history, African Americans, civil rights, racism, lynching, Mississippi
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Chicago: “American Experience; Jubilee Singers: Sacrifice and Glory; Interview with Toni Anderson, Music Historian,” WGBH, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (WGBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed May 20, 2019,
MLA: “American Experience; Jubilee Singers: Sacrifice and Glory; Interview with Toni Anderson, Music Historian.” WGBH, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (WGBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. May 20, 2019. <>.
APA: American Experience; Jubilee Singers: Sacrifice and Glory; Interview with Toni Anderson, Music Historian. Boston, MA: WGBH, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (WGBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from