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The Impact of Rock 'n' Roll on the Civil Rights Movement

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It was no coincidence that rock ‘n’ roll and the civil rights movement started at the same time. The genre originated from African American music and was greatly discriminated against. Traditional white Americans would target anything bad about it. But as the teenager demographic of the 1950s started increasing the sales of the music, the genre started gaining more popularity. It was the style of Elvis Presley and his new voice that made girls weak in the knees and boys want to be him. Artists such as Presley had enough influence to change the view of their devoted fans on civil rights issues. Soon as protest songs and rock ‘n’ roll became more popular and influential, it began a gap between the young adult generation and their parents which led to the rebellion of the civil rights movement. Through these factors rock ‘n’ roll influenced a great deal over the civil rights movement.
Rock 'n' roll came from a type of music called rhythm and blues (R&B), which consisted of doo-wop and gospel music. It was popular mostly in the south during the 40’s but it soon grew to urban cities. It was Les Paul’s invention of the electric guitar in 1952 that added a new sound and made rhythm and blues into the rock 'n' roll we all know and love today. Most of the artists from R&B were African American, and in their song they would reference sexual matters. So together it gave a bad connotation towards the music and their race, therefore both were never fully accepted in the north. The term “rock” was slang mostly used by African Americans meaning a form of music that was easily danced to. Meanwhile “roll” was usually a euphemism for sex, such as “a roll in the hay”. It was Alan Freed who first popularized the term “rock and roll” for this gen...

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...o grew up in the tight nit-pick culture of the 50s who were influenced by this new wave of music of rock ‘n’ roll. The gap between values of parents and their children grew. As teens became more rebellious, the civil rights movement came to play. It was the same teens and young adults that took this rebellion from rock and made it lead the civil rights movement into action, realizing that not all tradition is right.

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