Last night the horrible people of the Internet cried out in shock that Beyoncé performed at the CMAs. It was rare, to say the least, to see a black singer on stage at such a white event. But how did this dichotomy come about? As BLAC Magazine noted today, Henry Ford’s war on black, Jewish jazz—using country music—in the 1920s played a big part of it.
BLAC Mag’s Aaron Foley, a Jalopnik alum, wrote up that a big part of white country music’s rise was thanks to Henry Ford sponsoring its specifically white aspects to keep his workers away from jazz’s “monkey talk and jungle squeals.” And as he was wont to do, Ford blamed Jews for jazz’s presence.
Foley cites multiple sources in his article:
You can shift some of the blame for country music’s whiteness on a fear of blackness – a fear that had reached a fever pitch in Southeast Michigan. Henry Ford, while building his automotive empire, had some thoughts about music of his day that led to how country music was able to expand to the juggernaut it is today.
Henry Ford? That Henry Ford? Yes, that Henry Ford. Per author Richard Peterson’s “Ten Things You Didn’t Know about the Origins of Country Music”:
Henry Ford, the auto maker, put more money into promoting country music in the 1920s than anyone else. Ford was frightened by what he saw as the urban decadence of couples jazz dancing. In response he organized fiddling contests and promoted square dances across the country to encourage what he saw as the older, more wholesome forms of entertainment.
Despite being progressive in paying blacks equal pay to whites, Ford sponsored country music events for his workers to keep them away from the supposed detrimental effects of ‘Negro’ music.
Ford, as we have noted before, didn’t just want to pay his workers, he wanted to mould their lives to his vision of an ideal. That ideal, as it turned out, was pretty racist and anti-Semitic.
You should just go ahead and read the whole post on BLAC Magazine. There’s a lot more wild shit that Ford laid against black people and Jews from the notoriously regressive 1920s and good links to more sources, too.