The Sounds of Slavery: Discovering African American History Through Songs, Sermons, and Speech

I was daydreaming at a stoplight recently when the sound of thunder shook me from my reverie. It was pulsing rhythmically, and there seemed to be a faint whistling or screeching sound, as if I was in a hurricane or tornado. The sound got louder until it seemed be parked right outside my door. Which it was. It wasn’t thunder—it was a bone-shattering, pit-of-the-stomach-thudding Jeep Cherokee sound system. I glanced in my rearview mirror to see whether my son in the back seat had noticed. Not a chance. He was lost in his own music, headphones tightly clamped on his ears.

Thanks to our individual, portable, downloadable personal stereo units, we are the most aurally privatized society that has ever lived. More than ever we work, walk and drive to the beat of different drummers. We create our own soundtracks.


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