Black History Shared Through Vinyl

February 23rd, 2011

Today’s guest blogger, Savoychina1, as you might know, held the title for posting the most Show & Tells on Collectors Weekly. You might not know this: For more than 10 years, he’s been collecting books, records, and other historical items for elementary school media centers to use during Black History Month.

In case I haven’t shared the beginning, here it is in a nutshell: My son came home from elementary school, and said, “Dad, I need something to take to school for Black History Month.”

That was the beginning of collecting black history as a specific area. My son was in second or third grade then and now he is in his first year of college, so let’s call it about 10 years.

Now I have a black history collection that includes art, books, records, and anything else that I think will impress a young student. My goal is to inspire by education and example. I believe if you reach children in the third, fourth, and fifth grades you have a chance to make a difference in their lives. If you wait until the 12th grade, you have lost them.

What I want is to “wow” the children. Impress them about a person, or a song, or an activity to the point that they want to pursue it. I want them to ask their parents who that artist is, or who that singer is, and “Can I be like them?” Kids are not terribly analytical at that age. If you can get them to go home and say, “Hey Mom, I heard this record today called ‘Do The Freddie,’ ” and Mom laughs and says, “Child, what are you talking about! Your Daddy and I used to do the Freddie, and the Frugg, and the BOO-ga-LOO, too!” … then I have succeeded.

When I make an entry for Collectors Weekly on records, I try to find a catchy title and then pick my best, most vivid picture to capture attention. (Works with kids and adults!) Picking a genre is almost impossible: opera or blues; rock ‘n’ roll or jazz; gospel or country. The secret for me is not to pick one, but to expose the kids to as many genres as I can.

We all tend to personalize music. You are in the ninth grade and have been “going with” a little girl since seventh grade. She wants to break up. Suddenly, you can identify with Otis Redding singing the soulful, “I’ve been loving you, too long, to stop now …”  That is your song, for your time. Records of local churches may actually include family members of students. Some records celebrate African heritage. Many of the vintage records mark the introduction of new styles to popular music. Many of the artists “own” certain songs. Eartha Kitt has no equal singing “Santa Baby.” Percy Sledge owns “When a Man Loves a Woman.” Name a group or an artist and most people can tell you “their” song.

As far as favorites, it’s kind of like picking your favorite child. How about if we just say I love them all, but my favorite is the one in my arms right now!

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