1960s Detroit was a city with a pulse: people were marching in step with Martin Luther King, Jr.; dancing in the street with Martha and the Vandellas; facing off with city police and through it all, Motown provided the beat. This book tells the story of Motown - as both musical style and entrepreneurial phemen - and of its intrinsic relationship to the politics and culture of Motor Town, USA. As the author traces the evolution of Motown from a small record company firmly rooted in Detroit's black community to an international music industry giant, she gives us a clear look at cultural politics at the grassroots level. Here we see Motown's music t as the mere soundtrack for its historical moment but as an active agent in the politics of the time. In this story, Motown records had a distinct role to play in the city's black community as the community articulated and promoted its own social, cultural, and political agendas. smith shows how these local agendas, which reflected the unique concerns of African Americans living in the urban rth, both responded to and reconfigured the national civil rights campaign. Against a background of events on the national scene - featuring Martin Luther King Jr. Langston Hughes, Nat King Cole, and Malcom X - this book present a vivid picture of the civil rights movement in detroit, with Motown at its heart. This history is peopled with a host of major and mir figures in black politics, culture, and the arts, and full of the passions of a momentous era, it offers a critical new perspective on the role of popular culture in the process of political change.
Suzanne E. Smith is Associate Professor of History, George Mason University.