Search

ELVIS WAS NOT A RACIST HE WAS A SOUL BROTHER

ELVIS WAS NOT A RACIST HE WAS A SOUL BROTHER

It begins: ... 'As one of the most-debated subjects in the land was Elvis a racist. Elvis Presley arouses white discussion everywhere. But among the Negroes, the controversy over Elvis is even more explosive than among whites. The Negroes opinion about the hydromatic-hipped hillbilly from Mississippi runs the gamut from caustic condemnation to ardent admiration.

Some Negroes are unable to forget that Elvis was born in Tupelo, Mississippi, home town of the foremost Dixie race baiter, former Congressman Jon Rankin. Others believe a rumored crack by Elvis during a Boston appearance in which he is alleged to have said: 'The only thing Negroes can do for me is shine my shoes and buy my records'. Some Negroes who knew Elvis and included their remarks in his JET article. 'He faces everybody as a man', said Dudley Brooks, a Los Angeles piano player who worked on Elvis Presley's recording sessions. 'I never heard of the remark, but even so I can't imagine Presley saying that, not knowing him the way I do'.

The Jet article of 1957 further confirmed what friends and associates knew about Elvis all along: He truly loved and respected black musicians. Thus, JET magazine, highly respected among American blacks in 1957, not only cleared Elvis of voicing the racist comment, but also portrayed him as a young white man who fostered race equality in both his professional and private life. Elvis probably thought he had put the rumor to rest for good. Little did he know that all these years after his death it would continue to live on as an urban legend. The idea of Elvis racism would not die so easily.

Sammy Davis Jr : 'I have a respect for Elvis and my friendship. It ain't my business what he did in private. The only thing I want to know is, 'Was he my friend?', 'Did I enjoy him as a performer?', 'Did he give the world of entertainment something?' - and the answer is YES on all accounts. The other jazz just don't matter'. 'Early on somebody told me that Elvis was black. And I said 'No, he's white but he's down-home'. And that is what it's all about. Not being black or white it's being 'down-home' and which part of down-home you come from'. 'On a scale of one to ten, I would rate Elvis eleven'.

James Brown and Elvis Presley were good friends and admired each others talents. James authored two books, and one contains this quote about Elvis: 'I wasn't just a fan, I was his brother. He said I was good and I said he was good; we never argued about that. Elvis was a hard worker, dedicated, and God loved him ... I love him and hope to see him in heaven. There'll never be another like that soul brother'.

Indeed, in heavily segregated Memphis of that day, Presley was regularly seen at black-only events. In June 1956, a Memphis newspaper reported that Elvis had attended the Memphis Fairgrounds amusement park on a designated 'colored night'. The next month, he attended black radio station WDIA's charity event, featuring all-black talent, including Ray Charles, B.B. King, the Moonglows, and DJ Rufus Thomas.