This was prompted By (a) several National Public Radio stories about the history of the civil rights movement in Mississippi and its connection with the blues traditions and (b) the anti-intellectual dishonesty in various states to hide away, to bury, to prohibit the teaching of civil rights history in schools, most notably in Florida (“… you foolish man.”) Having taught history for so many years, I cannot bear this.
© Steven E. Cutts, 2023
a Studio C recording, June 2023
Bury it deep, deep as you can; but the truth won’t stay buried, you foolish man!
You cannot cover over all the centuries of prejudice and fear
‘Cause the blues will bear witness; you cannot make those ghosts stay disappeared.
Wash it away; try to make it fade. Rinse clean the past, that past you all made.
But there it is on film – shameful disrespect you can’t deny.
And the blues will bear witness; the melancholy blues will testify.
So much ugly business going down for years
Not in some dark fairy tale – no, no, it happened here! It happened here!
You can try to fool them. How much do kids know?
You can tell them anything; swear that it was so.
Spin a different story; list what teachers can and cannot say.
But the blues will bear witness to the history you wish to hide away.
Yeah, the blues will bear witness to the history you wish to hide away.