Ms Bettie Mae Fikes Event

The College of Liberal Arts - Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Program 50th Anniversary Kick-Off 

Presents Ms. Bettie Mae Fikes - "Touching Hearts While Healing Mine: Storytelling and Songs of the Civil Rights Movement"
Featuring: The Wayman A.M.E. Church Men's Profits of Praise,  Minneapolis, MN - Batume Gingery, Black Panther Chicago 1969 & Jazz Drummer 
& Pierre Lewis, Keyboardist Commodores and Prince

Wednesday, October 16, 2019
6:00 - 8:00 PM 
Doors Open at 5:30 PM
University of Minnesota - Theater, Coffman Memorial Union 
RSVP and Tickets:

FREE AND OPEN TO THE PUBLIC - Parking East River Road Garage $10

Gospel and Blues singer, Ms. Bettie Mae Fikes , known as the "Voice of Selma" was born in Selma, Ala. and is a descendant of a long line of country gospel singers and preachers.  Ms. Fikesbegan singing alongside her mother at age 4 and at age 16, she became a student leader for the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee in the Civil Rights Movement and was a founding member of the Freedom Singers during the Freedom Rights Struggle. Bettie was just a teenager when she started, she was jailed for several weeks for protesting during the voting rights struggle but continued using her powerful voice to stand against injustice. Her program will highlight her journey, invite the audience into the songs of the civil rights movement, and provide a loving reminder that, at any age we have the power to create change, to inspire others to join us, and to use our talents to truly impact the course of history. Bettie has graced the stages of Carnegie Hall, Newport Jazz Festival, the Library of Congress, and numerous Blues Festivals, as well as performing for the ’64 Democratic National Convention and the ’04 Democratic National Convention (where she was introduced by Maya Angelou). She has performed with Joe Turner, Lightnin’ Hopkins, Albert King, James Brown, Bob Dylan, and Mavis Staples among others. Bettie is also a dynamic lecturer, having delivered moving speeches about diversity and civil rights at universities throughout the United States and Canada. She was awarded the Long Walk to Freedom Award as well as a letter from California Governor Gray Davis acknowledging her role in the Civil Rights Movement. Ms. Fikes is also featured in the American Folklife Center, Library of Congress Civil Rights History Project: Survey of Collections and Repositories...Civil Rights Movement Veterans Collection. 

In Amiri Baraka’s Blues People: Negro Music in White America, he regards African music in terms of its intent, saying that one of its stark differences from Western music was that it was purely functional; it wasn’t meant to exist as art. We see that this African tradition appears in the life of the slave, with work song and spirituals existing as a means of necessary expression that called to God for freedom.  Zora Neale Hurston also discusses slave songs in Spirituals and Neo-Spirituals, and how they never remain in their original form regardless of publication because each rendition depicts a different mood.  The tunes stayed the same but the verses changed as folks improvised them. In addition, the lyrics vary between each recording, so the side by side comparison is only one example of the lyrical change.

Gospel Plow (Hold On) Keep Your Eyes on the Prize

I got my hands on the Gospel plow
I wouldn't take nothin' for my journey now

Keep your hands on the plow
Hold on, Hold on

I know the one thing we did right
Was the day we started to fight

Keep your eyes on the prize
Hold on, Hold on

There is no American social movement of the 20th or 21st century more closely connected to music than the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s. Protesters, some in prison, sang freedom songs to keep their spirits up. Folksingers, black and white alike, wrote songs about the paradoxes and pains not just of the Jim Crow South, but of the racism that had long troubled American life.  Initially, the civil rights music was predominately Christian hymns and African spiritual songs, but soon expanded to include folk, gospel and soul concepts. With this expansion, music started providing financial support with musicians organizing concerts to promote causes and raise money for the movement as a whole. The civil rights movement eventually proved successful with the Civil Rights Act of 1968 which stated that any discrimination due to race, religion or national origin was entirely prohibited in the United States of America. 

MLK Alumni Banner

MLK Alumni Networking Event is on Saturday, October 19th, 2019 from 5:30 PM to 8:30 PM. Click here for more information and to RSVP.