Draft:The Mississippi Caravan of Music

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Folklorist Robert (Bob) Cohen created the Mississippi Caravan of Music in 1964. Cohen described the Caravan as a cultural arm of the Mississippi Freedom Project.[1]

Although blacks in the United States had the right to vote it was nearly impossible for them to do so, particularly in the South. This is due to disenfranchisement after the Reconstruction Era and stipulations from Jim Crow laws, which occurred for over 70 years. Freedom Summer launched in June 1964 as a social justice campaign in the United States. The campaign focused on registering African American voters. Through the campaign Freedom Schools and Freedom Houses were implemented as a resource to black communities in the state. And ultimately, the campaign created a path towards the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which forbade racial discrimination towards voters.

The following is a summary of founder Bob Cohen's personal account of the Mississippi Caravan of Music, found in an article featured in Broadside Magazine # 51. The Caravan united white folksingers with the African-American communities of Mississippi through music. Folksingers visited Mississippi at various times during the summer of 1964. Overall, 22 folksingers were able to volunteer. There were over 30 Freedom Summer projects in Mississippi. The Caravan folksingers collectively traveled to them all. Folksingers spent as much time as they could at each location. At freedom schools, the singers contributed by sharing freedom songs with students. They taught students about the music’s slavery roots, and shared the ways in which African American's have shaped the nation's music. They also taught the students about black musicians and singers who made great contributions. These lessons allowed the students to feel proud of their heritage, rather than ashamed.[2]

Another way the Caravan contributed to the campaign was through workshops. The subjects of the workshops varied from folk dancing to learning songs on guitar. Later in the evenings, the community would gather to sing and play instruments, an event sometimes called a hootenanny. [2]

The Mississippi Caravan of Music Folksinger Volunteers[edit]

Len Chandler, Bob Cohen, Judy Collins, Jim Crockett, Barbara Dane, Alix Dobkin, The Eastgate Singers (Adam and Paula Cochran, James Mason, Jim Cristy) Jim and Jean Glover, Carolyn Hester, Greg Hildebrand, Roger Johnson, Peter La Farge, Phil Ochs, Cordell Reagon, Pete Seeger, Ricky Sherover, Gil Turner, Jackie Washington, Don Winkleman and Bob Dylan. [2][1]

External Links[edit]

Broadside Magazine # 51


  1. ^ a b Everman, Ron (1998). Music and Social Movements: Mobilizing Traditions in the Twentieth Century. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press. p. 101.
  2. ^ a b c Cohen, Robert (Bob) (February 19, 2018). "The Mississippi Caravan of Music". Broadside Magazine.