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this because it's been the post so the first question is the talk about the founding of this really in a world where men christian nation fisk university was founded by the american missionary association a group that had organized the end and rebellion in a sense because they felt that other christian missionary organizations were not as dedicated and can
you say that again the american missionary association felt like other christian organizations that were doing friedman's education and relief auburn not as as dedicated to the causes as they wanted them to be for example they often accepted money from southern plantation owners and they felt that that tainted the whole purpose for being so the ama the american missionary association i wanted to come with their organizational be pure so to speak and that they had were not tainted with southern plantation money so that's why they formed and when they went south right on the heels of the union or army to open up our education institutions for the blacks they felt that this was the primary avenues through which african americans and newly newly freed blacks could rise in society and better themselves so education was their main purpose for going to a couple that they had a second goal and that was christianity they believed that two things would help the newly freed blacks
education and christianity and so throughout their entire existence those two ideals were coupled together once maybe to evangelize they went south yes to say they went south to bring education and to bring christianity so they were evangelistic from the very beginning and a couple that with the educational efforts to that point with this when they may found that fisk university on they opened up educational opportunities for all blacks in the area's therefore they had students there from age five to seventy four sitting in the same classroom for everyone wanted to avail themselves of education but it was also a christian organization they have prayer meetings they had regular chapel services arm
this hold christian atmosphere permeated the institution they were very excited when they sent back reports of some of the iron out breaking news of a revival movement so to speak that happened on the campus conversions all those factored into the reports of the teachers would sing back to me i'm a headquarters what kind of climate you start kind of those years was as there is to talk about a little bit about the services permits but also just educational it's a very different environment at fisk university them what we would imagine today and colleges one reason that that is especially so is that so many of the teachers boarded and lived right there with their students and that was very different then and been many other places even within the country up north and other institutions where necessarily the it wasn't common always for the teachers to live with the
students that was required at fisk university because the northern missionary teachers couldn't find accommodations anywhere else southerners would let them in when keep them onboard them so they had to live on a campus with the students of course i created a different atmosphere they not only were teaching their students on facts and figures and knowledge but they were also in a sense a cold trading them and teaching them how to live and how to be and what a proper manners and water proper was proper etiquette sos sos it's very much a community atmosphere and in a sense that also fostered real strong relationships between teachers and their students it was a family atmosphere with strict rules and regulations that is very active his behavior was mandated and controlled certainly
that that was not uncommon for a lot of institutions during this era what kind of do you know what kind of glasses now there have been a lot of talk about that the same experience and that they go out across the horrible that's right about the charges right above all right will fisk university you know what this university was established an abandoned hospital barracks so the buildings from the very onset weren't the best scenario they weren't it wasn't the best environment to house an institution and it was already starting to deteriorate with deteriorate within a few years and so you
have the wind whistling through the cracks in the walls and i it's cold and and teachers and students alike are suffering together everyone suffer together if it was good it was good for everyone it was bad it was bad for everyone and that was the case at fisk so when when funds became tight and they didn't have enough money you have students and teachers alike being called the food was good it was this incredible problem with the cook and so they bring this cook on again and we start overcast as being too conversationalist they have these incredible problems with the cuts and every was no one was complaining about the food that the meat was tainted that there were these insects that they would find in their food it was just bad in fact george why rights that have their problems are due to sour stomachs
everyone 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 at where the parking but the food was not good so so that became the major source of contention and grumbling in quarreling was that wise a lot of factors play into the reason that that the financial problems became a reality for one thing giving the ama as a missionary organization and rick and relied upon giving to find its operations time giving was intense during when that when the abolitionists movement was at its peak of course once the war was one time people were not only suffering from the effects of war financially but also the innocence that the cause has been one so giving tapered off a bit then too the ama had found in many schools for blacks so their funds were being
spread around to more than just one organization also what happens is that this never lacked for interest of students coming to the institution and they've had difficulty times collecting the tuition so george white took on the responsibility as treasurer to send out numerous letters trying to collect money from students who are behind in their tuition well blacks were necessarily wealthy and although to issue is low it was still a problem paying the bill and then too many students would go out and teach in the summer in different as surrounding communities and they would teach it in some of the public schools for blacks and the county was supposed to pay them well the county didn't always pay so the steelers would have gone out and they were during their tuition for the next semester supposedly but when they came back they had no money to tell you something
else 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 fisk that perhaps mark what might help this entire situation with the food in this our stomachs is if they would separate the teachers from the students so that the teachers would have to monitor the students during the male time and that the teachers male time to be more of a social hour and perhaps that would help the entire somewhere when your digestive system and what's important what's the word that when you're here it helped their digestive said ok and at one point the doctor advised some of the administrators at fisk that perhaps a way to help alleviate the problems with the sour stomachs would be to separate the teachers from the students during mealtime
previously 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 if they were to separate and make the teachers male time more of a social hour then that would help their digestive systems and they would be able to tolerate the field better he says they really don't have very much andy can pay the coal bills that have a heated as the so called surge of george white as treasurer was responsible of course for bringing in all of the necessary items to find the institution he had great difficulty providing enough coal for heat the cost of coal had risen and he just the fines weren't there i am some provisions just the daily provisions call for heating food for the
cafeteria he was skipping everywhere to try to save about and keep the institution afloat as he's also playing other people who committed those numbers might sue you mentioned that and i don't know how much of that i'm not aware of how much of that is because i guess i did then maybe not so much of that is true but there's something that i don't know if we can even uses gaza you need to research to see if it's true when george white came to fisk yes george white came to fisk initially as a teacher as a music teacher it wasn't until the year after he had been involved with institution that he assumed the role
of treasure annie kept up his is out working with a choir he was a teacher of music in penmanship annie was excellent both and later as time went on his choir improved is evidence of that acquire improved the financial situation deteriorated so the question remains how much of that possibly he was due to his lack of skill as a treasure i'm not confident that he was the best a running the finances but as things deteriorated from his correspondence is evident that he take feels personally responsible for that and to white the best thing that happened if they ask the only thing that it happened yesterday brought in money was his choir they had performed a couple of concerts in the area and they they always raised many maybe not always enough to two and maybe they didn't
raise prices again they may not always raised enough money to clear expenses they didn't necessarily turn a profit but they made many it was the only thing in school that made money so there was two sources of income that white knew about one was the ama and the giving and its support and the other source of income was his choir so i think it's a natural conclusion for george white to see the choir as a potential vehicle for fundraising for the institution and he definitely felt responsible for the financial situation of fisk he was embarrassed by his own failure to make it work and that surfaces in his letters all the time just to go sailing in the center of what was going on the person ensemble cast
that is george white felt personally responsible for the financial deterioration of fisk university in his letters he says over and over again that is was embarrassed by the condition the financial condition of the college and so he he felt i say again george white obviously felt personally responsible for the financial condition of the institution and in his letters he often mentions how embarrassing is about his inability to make the institution financially secure that service is over and over and now he has this or so yes i did do it it does feel stupid and you know i did diaz this idea what
he has decided to make the choir yeah so i'm sort of a little bit about what the music the choir is this who is a lot of tension and then right george why had founded historian george white had formed a choir from the students on campus they gave the path of their lunch hour to meet in his office and sing songs he was he had had a lot of experience as a choir director he had had it was noted for his singing schools back in ohio before he had ever joined the squirrel hunters and fought in the civil war so he was a natural thing for him to form a choir at fisk university when he his choir though wallace stevens at fisk university took singing lessons or pitches abated in music george why was very careful to choose just a select one city one for his choir
so 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 critics they did a couple of concerts in the masonic hall and then he started working on a drama i can tata is fully staged and costumed esther by george handel george frederic handel and i'm rambling and they said again but the students the student but also with them these bright young people a sense of him when george white pulled the selective voices to form his choir i think it's important to remember that we knew that they were ranged in age you had students as young as thirteen fourteen fifteen up into their twenties they gave of their time to form this
choir and he began by teaching generally on quote white man's music they performed where they learned opera chorus is balance popular tunes of the day core literature that was very popular for other choirs to be singing during this time what was interesting though is that the students would often spontaneously use that time to sing some of the old spirituals and white listened he heard this and he loved the music and he encouraged them to sing this in their early concerts spirituals and not feature are not featured on the programs as it happens they have very mixed feelings about their misgivings about why singing of the spirituals was encouraged by white that the students did have mixed feelings about whether or not they
should even perform these works and there's a variety of reasons for that i am spell a shepherd remarks at one point that initially the spirituals representative in the dark days of slavery the shameful days of slavery and at the same time they were sacred because they were the songs that their parents and their ancestors had sung in their religious meetings and so there was this tension between the song the spirit shows being sacred in religious and but also representing a time that they wanted to leave behind so they were not keen on the idea of singing spirituals in public george white had to sort of pull that out of them and encourage them singing the spirit as an public became a lot more easy for it became easier singing the spirit as in public became easier for the fisk jubilee singers after they saw the way audiences responded to them
especially the spirituals would bring about the deepest emotional reactions from their audiences people were moved to tears and that they're held meaning for them for the jubilee singers think it changed in a sense when you think about what did it mean i think for this jubilee singers to see their audience is so moved by the song's me thinking from an article there are severe hoarders ellis a riot today that initially to the jubilee singers the spirituals represented the dark days of slavery and they were shameful in a
sense to them at least early nothing to be shared with public shared in public he said again to a stumbling and they're silly to jubilee singers the spirituals represented the dark days of slavery the shameful days of their past as they were reluctant to sing them in public but as they were encouraged to do so and once they did so they saw this emotional reaction from their audience and i think in time they came to realize that the spirituals represented more than just their own individual past that like in the words of web dubois those lesson that again that those boys were poor or found my best is that google io and it isn't even say that voice on a role as
you need to be ok initially to the jubilee singers the spirituals represented the dark days of slavery the shameful days of their past but once they sang them in public and they saw this emotional reaction from their audience and they saw the way that the audience is moved to tears and how well enjoyed they were and what meaning they had i think they began to revive wages what the spiritual cement the boys once said that the spirituals represented the cry of humanity and i think in a sense that's what they came to realize that this but the spiritual was was that a musical representation of more then just their past while was true that was the past it was more than that there was meaning and that they could be found and felt by all kinds of people and all colors people tesco cool when you think about it well so what's so
what's yours the further and that the institution got the more solid george white the more sure he became of his decision the further the find of the day that the fire there in that fisk university got the more sure george white became that taking his choir out to sing was a good idea he he felt confident that if they could just go out and saying that they would raise funds he was very visionary he gave a very entrepreneurial and so he could see that that there was money to be had by taking a trip out with a surly a novel idea for the ama and not one that they were very eager to support for a variety of reasons first of all i'm singing i'm ok there are a
variety 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 of love ah that has what i hate to start this again that's going to take all day right well we got a net return about why this choir general why not start with this why was the opposition to jewish liturgy for a lot of us initially but they've come to support military my cell phone the ama of course is not very supportive of george white's idea is very novel yet understand that during this time singing groups did not appear in church that was a and a new idea secondly george white wanted to target
mainly white christian audiences and generally the audiences he was going to be searching for were the same audiences at the ama already a appealed to for support so it was a bit of a conflict of interest in the same audience would have to support the jubilee singers as well as give to the ama and ama officials were bit reluctant about the whole idea that there's even more to it than that black singers did not appear on stage during his era except in the minstrel show and the minstrel show was a very stereotypical and derogatory image of african americans good upstanding christian people did not go to these kinds of entertainment's so there's this whole idea of of african americans standing up in a church service and singing and the ama and it was a novel idea so to the ama that was a lot here that they had to
contend with the whole idea of as this is entertainment are we are we getting a little too worldly here and the idea of are we taxing the same audience for fines and then and then just a hole opens the logistics of whether or not it would even work well there's also a question that's true certainly discrimination and racism was surly prevalent and the ama had also consider whether or not they could find that fund the enterprise care for the students and what kind of i'm what good would it do for the students also there was this whole idea of the scene is were there to be displaying education and we're taking him out of the education arena and taking them on tour so how are they going to deal with that and houses going to continue their cause
American Experience
Jubilee Singers: Sacrifice and Glory
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Interview with Toni Anderson, Music Historian
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WGBH (Boston, Massachusetts)
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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 November 30, 2020,
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. November 30, 2020. <>.
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