Listen, Whitey! Listen, Whitey!
The Sights and Sounds of Black Power 1965-1975
Noted music producer and scholar Pat Thomas spent five years in Oakland, CA researching Listen, Whitey! The Sights and Sounds of Black Power 1965-1975. While befriending members of the Black Panther Party, Thomas discovered rare recordings of speeches, interviews, and music by noted activists Huey Newton, Bobby Seale, Eldridge Cleaver, Elaine Brown, The Lumpen and many others that form the framework of this definitive retrospective.
Listen, Whitey! also chronicles the forgotten history of Motown Records. From 1970 to 1973, Motown’s Black Power subsidiary label, Black Forum, released politically charged albums by Stokely Carmichael, Amiri Baraka, Langston Hughes, Bill Cosby & Ossie Davis, and many others, all represented.
Also explored are the musical connections between Bob Dylan, John Lennon, Graham Nash, the Partridge Family (!?!) and the Black Power movement. Obscure recordings produced by SNCC, Ron Karenga’s US, the Tribe and other African-American sociopolitical organizations of the late 1960s and early ’70s are examined along with the Isley Brothers, Nina Simone, Archie Shepp, Art Ensemble of Chicago, Clifford Thornton, Watts Prophets, Last Poets, Gene McDaniels, Roland Kirk, Horace Silver, Angela Davis, H. Rap Brown, Stanley Crouch, and others that spoke out against oppression.
Other sections focus on Black Consciousness poetry (from the likes of Jayne Cortez, wife of Ornette Coleman), inspired religious recordings that infused god and Black Nationalism, obscure regional and privately pressed Black Power 7-inch soul singles from across America. 90,000 words of text are accompanied by over 250 large sized, full-color reproductions of album covers and 45 rpm singles — most of which readers will have never seen before.
Advance praise for Listen, Whitey!:
“The revolution was vaguely televised but it was even better and bodaciously visualized in multiple forms of media and by every means necessary. Most memorably by the very people who were making the revolution pop and populist in the Black Power and Pan-Afrikanist 60s and 70s. Listen, Whitey! is a phenomenally detailed memory jogger, smile-getter and page-turner for those who were valiantly there, drunk on possibility and militance. It’s also a historical cornucopia for those who weren’t around then and likely had no idea how artfully and aggressively those on the radically Afrocentric frontlines once seized the means of media production back in the day. Look out newjacks, post-blacks and radical rookies - this Molotov romancing family album is about to grab your mama.” – Greg Tate, author of Flyboy in the Buttermilk, Midnight Lightning: Jimi Hendrix and the Black Experience and Everything But the Burden: What White People Are Taking from Black Culture
"Listen, Whitey! is required reading for anyone who either remembers or wants to learn about the Black Power era in American culture. The images alone are worth the price of admission: record jackets, posters, magazine articles, manifestos. I've been poking around in archives and writing about the era for decades and Pat Thomas managed to surprise me on more or less every page. The quality of the writing stands up to the presentation, earning this book a place beside Bill Van Deburg's New Day in Babylon and Peniel Joseph's Waiting 'Til the Midnight Hour on the short shelf of books which speak with equal strength to scholars and general readers." – Craig Werner, author of Higher Ground: Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder, Curtis Mayfield and the Rise & Fall of American Soul and A Change Is Gonna Come: Music, Race & the Soul of America
"For millions around the world, the artists and activists of the Black Cultural Revolution powerfully revealed the shape and promise of transformative social and political change. The era's music and manifestos still hold beacon-like appeal for those who continue to imagine and fight for a new dawning of freedom for all. Pat Thomas's Listen Whitey!: The Sounds of Black Power is a huge contribution to our understanding of this crucial moment in our shared history, and a document that resounds with as much beauty, passion and hope as the records of that fervid time." – Jeff Chang, author of Can't Stop Won't Stop: A History of The Hip-Hop Generation and Who We Be: The Colorization of America
“With Listen, Whitey! Pat Thomas has accomplished what so many others could not: he has produced a comprehensive, badass treatment of the radical music and cultural production of the Black Power years.
“Listen, Whitey! is one of those rare works that does not seek to expose and exploit but to celebrate the works of black radicalism, delivered in a format that is accessible and almost as righteous as the material itself.
“Pat Thomas is an organic intellectual that captures the disorder and controversy of the times with his own flavor and style. He operates with wit and an appetite for accuracy to tell a story from a period steeped in racial hostility and confrontation.
“Pat Thomas gets down with the raw funk of it all. You will feel the Black Power exploding off the pages.” – Rickey Vincent, Ph.D., author of Funk: The Music, the People and the Rhythm of The One
"It took Thomas five years to put together what he describes as 'a definitive catalogue of Black Power-related recording,' but Listen, Whitey!... is far more than that. An exhaustive guide, with an introduction by producer/director Stanley Nelson, to speeches, poetry and music..., it also maps the complex relationship between music and politics.... With reproduced record sleeves, adverts and magazine covers, Listen, Whitey! is quite simply ace." – Lois Wilson, MOJO
"The statistics of how man young (and old) black Americans fill the nation’s prisons is sickening. In the UK (post-riots) the relationship between the authorities and young blacks is as strained and tense as it always has been. Pat Thomas’s wonderful book Listen, Whitey! The Sights and Sounds of Black Power takes this on-going issue back to the 1967-74 period when musicians both black and white spoke out against the injustice.... The revolution started here!" – Jon "Mojo" Mills, Shindig!