By Emerald Collins |Staff Writer|
The John M. Pfau Library and Black Faculty, Staff and Student Association presented a lecture last Thursday, “Remembering Motown: The Politics of Sound and Performance.”
According to the chair of theatre arts department and host Kathryn Erwin, the seminar covered how “Motown influenced popular culture and re-created the image of Black America.”
The event was part of the Noontime Lecture Series held by the Pfau Library and took place Feb. 16 on the fourth floor.
The original family business, Motown, is responsible for the fame of stars such as Diana Ross, Marvin Gaye, The Temptations and Stevie Wonder. Founder Berry Gordy Jr. established the company in 1960 after purchasing a house in Detroit, Mich, later discovering artist Mary Wells and many more to come.
“Motown changed the image of relationships between Black men and women, uplifted Black men, provided social commentary and made America move to the music,” said Erwin. The event paid tribute to Motown’s iconic figures such as Marvin Gaye, The Supremes, The Temptations, Jackson 5, Smokey Robinson and Stevie Wonder.
“My Girl” by The Temptations is not only a song about a man falling head-over-heels for a woman and “having so much honey the bees envy [him],” but is also a song that humanized Black men by showing they were capable of affection and romance, related Erwin.
During a time of events such as the murder of Emmet Till, assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the birth of the Black Panthers, the existence of Motown help Black culture evolve.
“Art is a part of social revolution which means that pop music of today is commentary for tomorrow and Motown represented just that,” said Erwin.
The lecture was as insightful as taking the actual tour in Detroit, Mich. minus the traveling expenses.
As an attendee of both, the educational lectures not only sparked my interest but I learned new facts at Erwin’s lecture that were not spoken of in Motown’s tour.
In addition to bringing back memories for the Motown generation, respected choreographer Cholly Atkins constructed and perfected those dance moves used by groups such as The Temptations.
If you would like to learn more about the subject or history of Black pop culture, the Pfau library recommends taking Humanities 370 which will be offered in the upcoming spring quarter.
Pfau Library is holding their next Noontime lecture Feb. 22, in room PL-4005 on the fourth floor.
If you have any questions, concerns or ideas about the upcoming Noontime lectures, you can contact Iwona Contreras at [email protected].