August 25, 2020
Ishould’ve known the Ku Klux Klan would pop up. Not only was I in Tennessee, where racism punctuates our historical narrative, but this was Lawrenceburg, some scant eighteen miles from Pulaski, the Klan’s birthplace. And the Lawrenceburg folks had been some of the first to join in terrorizing African Americans, carpetbaggers, and scalawags. Still, sitting in the Crockett Theater on a prickly velvet seat surrounded by 1,049 Southern gospel quartet fans, I thought the Klan would stay safely out of this essay.
Yes, I thought I could avoid talking about racism even knowing that the “Southern” in Southern gospel is a euphemism for white.
The librarian had ended that naiveté. One Google search later, I found my first evidence he was right: a piece of digitized sheet music in Yale’s Beinecke Library.