Ska Against Racism Tour

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The Ska Against Racism Tour of 1998 was a one time musical tour in the United States organized by Mike Park, a Korean American musician.[1] The audience was mainly young white male hardcore ska devotees.[2] Ska is a music genre that originated in Jamaica and later became the precursor to rocksteady and reggae.[3] This genre of music promoted racial tolerance through a variety of multicultural artists and bands.[3] The purpose of this tour was to overcome racial barriers in a nonviolent and peaceful manner.[1]


Ronald Reagan’s presidency in the 1980s played a key role in the racial issues of this time.[4] His presidential campaigns did not support the Civil Rights movements of previous presidents.[4] Although improvements had been made throughout the 1970s, racial problems and discrimination were still major issues facing minority groups.[4] American Indians, African Americans, Hispanics and Latinos, and Japanese Americans all continued to battle prejudice and discrimination.[4]

Ska music originated in the 1950s in Jamaica.[1] During the 1980s, ska music became popular in England based on the fact that there was mutual respect between white and black musicians.[1] The "2-tone ethic" is a leading factor in ska music. Most bands of this genre consisted of a mix of nationalities.[1] The intent of ska music was to promote racial equality. It strived to overcome national and racial barriers.[5] Race is not an issue in the ska community; it's what you say and play that really matters.[1]

The 1998 tour was organized by Mike Park, a musician of color himself.[1] Park organized this tour hoping it would teach the young generation of that era about racism.[1] The 28-year-old singer had also bagged the groups Anti Racist Action and Artists for a Hate-Free America, as well as the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles, all of which have helped to promote the tour.[5] Mike Park is a strong advocate of racial unity.[6] Through his music, he addresses important racial issues as well as social and political issues that he believes are important.[6] To continue the fight for peace and equality, Park founded the Plea For Peace Foundation ( in 1999.[6] It is a 501C3 non-profit organization that facilitates benefit tours, CD's, and publications backed by a strong network of bands, labels, charities, and supporters.[6] Plea For Peace Foundation's message is "To promote the ideas of peace through the power of music".[6]

Musical style[edit]

Ska is the sole music genre that's incorporated into the Ska Against Racism Tour. Ska Against Racism is an eight-band throw down of multiple, mix-and-mash styles—including punk, rap, rock and r&b-- all anchored by ska.[2] Each and every one of the bands that participated in the 1998 tour play music that spans one or more sub-genres of ska music. For instance, ska punk is a fusion music genre that combines ska music with punk rock music.[7]

Some of the most popular Ska bands include: The Specials (since 1977), The Toasters (since 1981) The Mighty Mighty Bosstones (since 1983), No Doubt (since 1986), Skankin' Pickle (1989-1996), Mustard Plug (since 1991), Reel Big Fish (since 1992), Less Than Jake (since 1992), and Five Iron Frenzy (since 1995).

Five of these popular Ska bands played in the 1998 Ska Against Racism Tour.

Impact of the Tour[edit]

Mike Park stated, "what we're hoping with this tour is to maybe educate about the history of ska, but also hit an age group that's really impressionable. I know a lot of these kids are just here to see the music, but if we can get a small percentage to really get involved, become proactive, and volunteer their time with youth centers and demonstrate against Klans in their area--whatever. Just to become more educated."[8] Chuck Wren, the radio and street promotion for the tour, said he didn't think it would change the world but that on balance it was a good thing: "I think part of the reason for the tour is to bring some awareness and to hand out literature from the different organizations and to raise money as well."[8]

According to the Blue Meanies, few of the bands playing in the tour were committed to the message.[8] The tour had very little emphasis on racism, bands would occasionally say "Racism sucks," but that's it.[8] Park was disappointed in the outcome of the tour but he confessed that there was no time to get things properly organized. Despite the disappointment, the tour donated $23,000 to Anti-Racism Action and the National Council of Churches' Burned Churches Fund. It included 100 percent of the profits from official Ska Against Racism merchandise—about $7,000—and the $15,000 that was left over after the bands took their cut.[8]


The 1998 tour line-up consisted of:

Less Than Jake, Mustard Plug, The Toasters, Five Iron Frenzy, MU330, Blue Meanies, Mike Park, and Kemuri.[8]

Tour dates[edit]

Listed below are the tour dates and locations of the Ska Against Racism Tour of 1998. Large metropolitan areas are among the nation’s most segregated regions, and while none are meaningfully integrated, some are divided far more along racial lines than others.[9]

The racial divide in Cincinnati is one of the greatest in the country; While 10.3% of white area residents live in poverty, more than 30% of Hispanic residents and more than 33% of black residents live below the poverty line, both among the highest rates in the country.[9] Houston, Texas has a 60.6 white-black dissimilarity score, Washington D.C. has a 61.0 white-black dissimilarity score, Pittsburgh, Pa. has a 63.1 white-black dissimilarity score, New Orleans has a 63.3 white-black dissimilarity score, Chicago has a 75.2 white-black dissimilarity score, New York City, N.Y. has a 76.9 white-black dissimilarity score, and Milwaukee, Wisc. has the highest at 79.6 white-black dissimilarity.[10] Racial inequality in Milwaukee County is divided along racial and political lines, and the city is the most segregated in America.[11]

United States (1998)[12]
Date Location Venue
March 26* Auburn, WA Green River Community College *1st date of the tour sans

Mustard Plug (missed flight)

April 1 Palo Alto The Edge
April 2 Ventura Ventura Theatre
April 3 Las Vegas Huntridge Theatre
April 4 Phoenix Club Rio
April 5 Irvine Oak Canyon Ranch
April 7 Austin Voodoo Lounge
April 8 Dallas Dallas Music Complex
April 9 Houston Fitzgerald's
April 10 New Orleans Tipitina's Warehouse
April 11 Jacksonville Skateworld
April 12 St. Petersburg Janus Landing
April 13 Orlando The Club @ Firestone
April 14 Sunrise Sunrise Musical
April 15 Atlanta Masquerade
April 16 Winston-Salem Ziggy's
April 17 Norfolk The Boathouse
April 18 Harrisonburg Godwin Hall
April 19 Philadelphia The Trocadero
April 21 Washington, D.C. 9:30 Club
April 23 New York City Roseland Ballroom
April 24 Worcester The Palladium
April 25 Hartford Webster Theater
April 26 Montclair Montclair State
April 28 Pittsburgh Metropol
April 29 Cincinnati Bogart's
April 30 Roseville The Palladium
May 1 Chicago Riviera Theater
May 2 Milwaukee The Rave Ballroom
May 3 Ames Iowa State University
May 5 St. Louis Galaxy
May 6 Kansas City The Beaumont
May 8 Denver Mammoth Event Center
May 9 Casper Casper Events Center


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Martin, Charles. "Ska bands unite behind anti-racist, 2-tone ethic". Orlando Weekly. Retrieved 4 October 2016.
  2. ^ a b Piccoli, Sean. "Ska Tour Founder Worn Out". tribunedigital-sunsentinel. Retrieved 6 October 2016.
  3. ^ a b "ska | music". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 13 October 2016.
  4. ^ a b c d "Racism in the Academy: The New Millennium" (PDF). CRRA Report.
  5. ^ a b James, Adam. "Skankin' Out Racism". Miami New Times. Retrieved 5 October 2016.
  6. ^ a b c d e "Mike Park". Retrieved 13 October 2016.
  7. ^ "Explore: Ska Revival | AllMusic". 9 December 2010. Archived from the original on 9 December 2010. Retrieved 1 November 2016.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  8. ^ a b c d e f Jones, J. R. "Ska's Lost Cause". Chicago Reader. Retrieved 3 November 2016.
  9. ^ a b "America's Most Segregated Cities". Retrieved 1 November 2016.
  10. ^ "The 22 Most Segregated Cities In America". Business Insider. Retrieved 2 November 2016.
  11. ^ "Why Is Milwaukee So Bad For Black People?". Retrieved 25 October 2016.
  12. ^ "In Music We Trust - SKA AGAINST RACISM". Retrieved 20 October 2016.