Limited Edition LP.
So that moving from the middle passage forward (and backward), as Jacques Roumaine said, from that “railroad of human bones . . . at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean,” one traced the very path and life and development, tragedy, and triumph of Black people. How they had been “removed” from Africa and had been transformed by this hideous “trip,” and by the context of their lives in the actual “West,” into a Western people. By the beginning of the nineteenth century, Du Bois points out, the majority of us were “Americans.” (Here, a pause, for “canned” studio laughter!)
At each juncture, twist and turn, as Black people were transformed, so was their characteristic music. It became emphatically clear to me that by analyzing the music, you could see with some accuracy what and why that change had been. To reflect that “newer” them, which I later termed, in the book Black Music, “The Changing Same.” In the continuously contrasting contexts of their actual lives. My deep concentration on the continuing evidence of surviving “Africanisms” and parallels between African customs and philosophies, mores, etc., and the philosophies and their Afro-American continuum were to teach myself, and whoever, that Black people did not drop out of the sky, although, “fo’ sho’,” they continue to be, despite the wildest of ironies, the most American of Americans.
But for all the syncretic re-presentation and continuation of African mores and beliefs, even under the hideous wrap of chattel slavery (“many have suffered as much as Black people ... but none of them was real estate” –– Du Bois), there is one thing that I have learned, since the original writing of Blues People, that I feel must be a critical new emphasis not understood completely by me in the earlier text. That is, that the Africanisms are not limited to Black people, but indeed American Culture, itself, is shaped by and includes a great many Africanisms. So that American culture, in the real world, is a composite of African, European, and Native or Akwesasne cultures, history, and people. [...]
Actually, Blues People is a beginning text. There is much work yet to be done to properly bring the music into the open light of international understanding and collective social development and use –– despite the massive commercial exploitation...*
— Amiri Baraka, Blues People: Blues People: Negro Music in White America (1963)
*excerpt from the introduction of the 1999 First Quill edition by Amiri Baraka