By Shannon Barbour
Returning guest Tammy Kernodle sang and discussed the role of black women activists who used music as a nonviolent strategy Thursday evening in Castellaw Communication Center.
“I ain’t gonna let nobody turn me around, gonna keep on walkin’, keep on talkin’, marchin’ on freedom’s way,” Kernodle sang, leading the audience as the female activists did 50 years ago.
Kernodle, a professor of musicology at Miami University in Ohio, visited Baylor in October to speak at the Pruit Symposium, three days of presentations, panels and gospel performances.
She was invited to speak this time by Dr. Mia Moody-Ramirez, associate professor of journalism, public relations and new media, who applied for a grant to host Kernodle.
The importance of the female song leaders of the civil rights movement is increasingly relevant around the world today, said Robert Darden, associate professor of journalism, public relations and new media.
“The civil rights movement is growing. The music that was sung there is being sung in China today,” Darden said.
Baylor students, professors, church members from the community and Waco citizens attended the event.
“It warmed my heart to see people from the community here,” Moody said.
Houston senior Mariah Arceneaux said she was inspired by Kernodle’s lecture and sees evidence of political messages in music today through artists such as J.Cole.
“Now, more so than ever, you hear rappers mentioning the issues that have happened with Trayvon Martin and Ferguson in their music and it rallies the African-American community together,” Arceneaux said.
Arceneaux said she enjoyed Kernodle’s presentation and was motivated by the examples of female singers that Kernodle included.
“It made me feel really empowered because you rarely hear about the black women in the movement,” Arceneaux said. “You never hear about the women behind the scenes.”
The research and work that Kernodle has gathered and produced on this subject will be used in a larger work and later turned into a book.
“I’m a female musician and I think we need to be written into the story. My calling is to be their voices,” Kernodle said of past female song leaders.
Kernodle’s work in the past 10 years has generally revolved around women in culture and history. She has researched contemporary artist Meshell Ndegeocello and intends to continue her work focusing on black female musicians such as Nina Simone, Erykah Badu, Jill Scott and India Arie.
In addition to focusing on the political messages in contemporary music, Kernodle said she will focus on the natural hair movement and how black women’s bodies are mentioned and portrayed.
“She’s bringing them to the forefront, where they should’ve been,” said Darden on the importance of Kernodle’s research subjects.