Elvis wasn’t racist. Neither is giving him the Presidential Medal of Freedom

Elvis wasn’t racist. Neither is giving him the Presidential Medal of Freedom
Elvis Presley (Image: Wikimedia Commons)

[Ed. – Making the King an avatar for racial resentments so long after his death just creates more divisions.]

Even if Elvis popularized an art form that people of another race largely invented, it’s hard to argue that a lots and lots of successful black artists didn’t walk right through the doors he opened. Presley was initially a hero among black musicians in Memphis for that reason, and there’s no reason to think Elvis himself was racist. Quite the opposite, in fact. In 1956, it was reported the ‘“the rock ’n’ roll phenomenon cracked Memphis’s segregation laws” by attending the Memphis Fairgrounds amusement park “during what is designated as ‘colored night.’”’ …

Rock ‘n’ roll has been around for the better part of a century. If you’re invested in making Elvis an avatar for racial resentments more than 40 years after his death, you’re, perhaps unwittingly, making the problems of contemporary divisions worse. Music is one of a precious few cultural forces still holding us together. It’s not zero sum; we can acknowledge that more credit is owed to black musical pioneers and acknowledge that Elvis was remarkably talented man a who made a singular connection with tens of millions of Americans. …

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