Friday, December 30, 2016

Alan Freed

Last summer I caused a bit of a stir when I suggested that the gigantic banner heralding the historic achievements of Garrett Morgan had been unfairly “whitewashed” prior to the Republican National Convention. My suggestion that racism had anything to do with the decision was slammed by numerous parties, I was accused of jumping to conclusions, and creating unnecessary controversy.

After all, Garrett Morgan had not invented the stoplight. The banner was incorrect. He improved on the design, and it is very important that we do not provide credit where it is not due. It had nothing to do with his ethnic background, nor the color of his skin.

My post on the subject was one of my most widely read of the year, and concluded on an upbeat note. A new, smaller banner had been posted more accurately announcing that Garrett Morgan was the creator of a stoplight, not the stoplight.

This new Morgan banner, which for the time being still exists, is among many such banners on Euclid Avenue, including the one which states proudly CLEVELAND DISC JOCKEY ALAN FREED COINED THE TERM “ROCK AND ROLL” IN THE EARLY 1950S.



The term “rocking and rolling” dates back to at least the early 20th century.

The Boswell Sisters recorded a song called Rock and Roll in 1934.

The Rock and Roll Inn music club opened in New Jersey in 1943.

Around 1951, Alan Freed began to “popularize” the term on his Cleveland-based radio broadcasts.

To coin is to invent, to originate. Alan Freed made popular the term -- for a white audience -- and is therefore widely credited with having created it.

As we move into this era, may I suggest once again without argument that African-Americans must validate their legitimacy to an extant that Caucasians do not.

God, am I pissed I didn't catch that last summer ...

Please read my original July 15, 2016 post on the Garrett Morgan banner.


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