Ethnomusicologist Visits Milne

Terrance McLeod, Staff Writer

Dr. Don Hill, an ethnomusicologist, someone who studies music as an aspect of culture, shared his music collection from the South during the segregation period in the Milne Library on November 28.

When Hill was a college student in California, he had heard of people traveling the country gathering sound recordings of folk music. “I loved folk music and I believed that if they could travel around and collect sound recordings, so could I,” Hill stated.

His first trip was to Clarksville, Mississippi in 1958, a time when Jim Crow laws were enforced in the South. “At the time we didn’t know what we were getting into, we were not from the South and were unfamiliar with segregation. We didn’t know what sounds we were recording either at the time, but they turned out to be the sounds of segregation.” Hill was in Mississippi the same time the freedom writers were, “so the police were not very kind to outsiders” Dr. Hill stated. He told a story about how the police pulled his car over when he was traveling with Wade Walton, an African-American. The police stopped and told him to leave Walton on the side of the road with them. Hill refused, which resulted in him being kicked out of Mississippi, and in 1961 when he returned to Mississippi he was jailed for returning. Throughout his lecture he showed pictures of famous blues players and played some of their music including award-winning songs from artist Wade Walton.

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