Mudcat Café message #137004 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #15317   Message #137004
Posted By: Sandy Paton
16-Nov-99 - 05:50 PM
Thread Name: Tell me about Si Kahn...
Subject: RE: Tell me about Si Kahn...
Si's musical, mentioned above, was one of the most powerful stage productions Caroline and I have ever seen. Si was there when we saw it produced in southern Connecticut a few years ago, so we had a chance to talk with him afterwards, although I found it hard to talk through the tears the play induced.

The play was based on the 1930s strike of sharecroppers and tenant farmers in Tyronza, Arkansas, led by the newly formed Southern Tenant Farmer's Union. The story of this struggle is well described in Mean Things Happening in This Land by H. L. Mitchell, one of the two founders of the union. A very thorough study of the sharecropper's fight for an end to what was virtual slavery is Donald Grubbs' Cry From the Cotton. Both of these are well worth reading, especially if you are singing some of the powerful protest songs that came out of the struggle, several of which, written by black union worker John Handcox, have become classics of the labor movement. You might also want to read Prologue to the Protest Movement about the roadside demonstration of evicted sharecroppers near Sikeston, Missouri, in January of 1939, and also Thad Snow's From Missouri, a delightfully ironic autobiography by a white planter who was totally sympathetic to the 'croppers.

I apologize for sounding like I'm going to call a pop quiz at the end of the term. I just think we ought to learn as much as we can about those things of which we sing.

Sandy (always the folk fogey)