The Ruffled Crow

Animation, Art, and Other Shiny Things

Swing of Change



In honor of Martin Luther King Jr’s birthday here is a story of redemption.

Set in a ‘Whites Only’ barber shop in the 1930s, the straight-laced, former military man of a barber goes through the same routine every day – including the playing of a martial-style record on the Victrola. When the Victrola breaks down, the barber hears a jazz trumpeter outside his shop on the street and comes into possession of a trumpet with music of its own.

This short animation tells us a small truth of history – though I would wish the change in our society were so quick and lasting. In the 1920s and 30s, Jazz was bursting out of the seams of New Orleans, Chicago, Harlem and many other cities. Mainly in the black clubs, it caught on with white audiences in a big way. Though racism was still affected by whom and where jazz was played, there began a steady flaking away of divisions between black and white musicians and within a few decades some bands integrated.

Granted, this integration caused some clubs to deny those bands a venue, or ask them to remove their black musicians, but a few bands, like Dave Brubeck’s, canceled or refused to play at those clubs.

It’s been over 50 years since Civil Rights laws were passed in this country and we still struggle to absorb it fully into our society. I don’t understand why, but continue to hope.

Every year on this day, the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr. I listen to his “I’ve Got a Dream” speech and have it posted here. Take a moment to listen and then some time to think. Prejudice and hate are two things that should be resisted and spoken out against.

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