Skip to main content

Where Did the Hammond Sound Come From – and Where Did It Go?

Ashon Crawley lecture begins AAAS 50th speaker series
Long view of the Moyle Room

Department Chair Mark Anthony Neal provided introductory remarks for the speaker series.

Ashon Crawley, Ph.D.‘13, grew up in the Black Pentecostal church playing the Hammond organ by ear. He thought it was a sound that belonged to the black church. In fact, the sound of the organ can be traced from pre-slave trade Islam to southern delta gospel and blues.

His late afternoon talk, “Migration Stories and the Hammond Sound,” explored how the sound of the Hammond organ has crossed continents and time as a sonic device regarded for its mystical and spiritual significance.

“There is sonic evidence in the way we pray. If we listen to the sound of Islam, we might hear the relationship to the blues,” Crawley said before playing surprisingly similar-sounding clips of music from the Islamic, blues, Black Baptist and Black Pentecostal traditions.

Crawley lecturing from podium

Ashon Crawley, University of Virginia

Nearly 30 students and faculty from Duke and neighboring universities filled the Moyle Room at the Karsh Alumni and Visitor Center on Sept. 18, for the launch of the Department of African and African American Studies’ 50th anniversary speaker series. The 2019/20 series features a lecture by Duke alum who was trained or mentored in black studies at Duke and went on to a career in the field.

Crawley is an associate professor of religious studies and African American and African Studies at the University of Virginia. He is also the author or “Black Pentecostal Breath: The Aesthetics of Possibility,” and the forthcoming, “The Lonely Letters.”

“Migration is an attempt to allow for creative practice in the unfamiliar. We can understand the journey by the cities traveled through. Migration is a cause of remembrance. What do we carry when we migrate?” Crawley said.

“Let’s take it to church,” Crawley said, a common refrain, means “there is something worth carrying.”

He notes the moment when a musician changes the sound from major to minor, heightening the audience expectation.

“These are occasions to think about the interrelatedness of sacred practice,” Crawley said.

He listened to musicians play the same song on the Hammond and how the chords changed in cities such as Brooklyn, Detroit, Houston and Chicago, the location of churches known for their musicianship.

“They are actually playing what it feels like to be a question,” Crawley said. “The chord changes mark difference, what is it like to live and breathe in difference?”

Of the musicians, often queer people “who serve as a sonic foundation” for the church, Crawley said “the church does not want them to come out nor do they want to risk losing their labor so they don’t talk about queerness, unless it is in a disparaging way.”

With more stringent church rules that did not allow for experimentation and the decline of music education in public school, Crawley’s work traces the sacred sound of the organ as it “creates new worlds.”

Twelve-year-old Fellowship Program Welcomes German Scholars to Duke

Amerikahaus 2008

Since 2007, German Ph.D. candidates have been coming to Duke through a partnership with the Bavarian American Academy in Munich

By Camille Jackson

German scholar Clara-Sophie Höhn’s nearly eight weeks on Duke’s campus last year helped advance her Ph.D. project to the next level, offering her the opportunity to engage with experts, use the university’s vast library, and benefit from its particular location in the American South.

“The most important aspect for me was that I was able to meet the people I was studying personally and get an impression of who they are and what motivated them to take part in one of the major social movements in the U.S.,” said Höhn whose thesis topic was on antiracism and the role of Southern white women in the civil rights movement.

“I am focusing on intersectionality as established by Kimberlé W. Crenshaw,” Höhn writes in her project summary. “It examines how social categories, in my case race, whiteness, gender, class, culture, and religion, overlap as well as intersect and therefore influence systems of oppression, discrimination, domination and/or privilege.”

Höhn is one of the most recent fellows to be selected for the Bavarian American Academy/Duke University Post-Graduate Research Fellowship, a 12-year partnership between the Duke Center for Race, Ethnicity and Gender in the Social Sciences (REGSS) and the America House Munich – Bavarian Center for Transatlantic Relations.

The fellowship provides students pursuing a Ph.D. in fields such as law, history, and political science, a generous stipend, housing, travel assistance and the opportunity to spend up to 8 weeks on Duke’s campus.

This fall, Duke will welcome its 12th fellow, Axelle Germanaz, a Ph.D. candidate at FAU Erlangen-Nürnberg in American studies.

“For me, the program is very important and impressive. All of the fellows report back on the incredible, helpful and enriching research environment, the ample resources, and the huge benefit of personal communication and intercultural exchange,” said Margaretha Schweiger-Wilhelm, the managing director of the Bavarian American Academy.

The program, which began in the 2007-08 academic year, was founded by the former directors of the Bavarian American Academy (BAA). Professor Kerry Haynie, REGSS director, oversees the program on Duke’s end.

The relationship between Duke and BAA began during a 4-day summer institute, “Ethnicity and Society in America,” held in 2008 at the America House Munich – Bavarian Center for Transatlantic Relations in Munich, Haynie was one of the U.S. faculty members who led discussions on the historical and intellectual dimensions of race in the arts, humanities and social sciences.

At the time, the Executive Director of the Bavarian Center for Transatlantic Relations, Meike Zwingenberger, was BAA’s managing director.

“Professor Haynie has been an outstanding source of information and help for the fellows, together with the local staff. All participants have reported that they received an enormous support at the center,” Zwingenberger said. “The Center (REGSS) has been an excellent partner for younger researchers in Germany working on urban studies, race relations, ethnic entrepreneurship, public policies, presidential election’s voting behavior and other themes connected to social science research.”

“The Fellowship program has been a successful intellectual partnership between the Bavarian American Academy, the Duke Alumni German-American Club, and REGSS,” said Haynie, who hosts the fellows in the physical office space of the Duke Council on Race and Ethnicity.

“The university is an ideal location for scholars working on topics related to race, ethnicity, intersectionality, race relations, and politics because of its excellent faculty, library, and archival resources. We have been able to provide the fellows with a base from which to do in-depth research and fieldwork, and connect with faculty and graduate students who have expertise in their research areas,” Haynie said.

“The relationship has been mutually beneficial. For example, the fellows introduce us to new perspectives and scholarship on topics related to the work of the Center. I’m especially pleased that this partnership provides Duke alumni in Germany with the means to remain connected to the university.”

Zwingenberger said that besides being a prestigious U.S. partner, Duke’s location in the Research Triangle, in North Carolina, and in the southern U.S. made the partnership especially attractive. She added that Duke’s Law School, Fuqua School of Business, Sanford School of Public Policy, as well as REGSS, provided “an excellent academic environment.”

Founded as a network of Bavarian scholars working in the social sciences and other fields to foster academic relationships with the U.S., the BAA sponsors individuals to pursue academic scholarship in the U.S. via fellowships for doctoral candidates. In addition to its partnership with Duke, BAA also sponsors fellowships at Harvard and Yale.

A German Duke alum based in Munich, Markus Nauheim, LLM ‘96, helped secure initial funding for the program to further support the academic exchange between Germany and the U.S.

“Duke is like the ‘Disney World’ of education,” Nauheim said. “I would love for more students to see and experience it. Studying in this type of stimulating environment makes you more curious, makes you really enjoy education, and you can learn about yourself too.

“We are really happy to be able to sponsor students and to encourage them to come to Duke,” Nauheim said. As the chair of Duke Germany, Nauheim helped make it possible for alumni to donate to the program under tax-exempt status. It has been the perfect vehicle for German alumni to show their school spirit.

“German Duke alumni feel very attached to the school. And the more talented and gifted students we can attract, the better. It’s important to be in this sort of company. The Duke brand is not yet as well-known as Yale or Harvard, so the program does a lot for the university’s reputation abroad. It is even more important in the current political environment to further the Transatlantic academic and cultural exchange.”

German universities do not have the same resources top, private American universities have, Nauheim explained, and students are in large classes with few opportunities to form relationships with professors.

At Duke, fellows are able to make use of the university’s cutting-edge resources and special collections of rare books and manuscripts, as well as the vibrant guest speakers and conferences on civil rights-themed issues.

“The academic profile of the Center has been especially attractive for Bavarian scholars working in the social sciences on comparative projects in political science, public policy, urban studies or on race relations in Germany and the U.S. It has provided a starting point for contact with renowned scholars from other U.S. universities.” Zwingenberger added.

Those connections helped Höhn greatly.

“The resource that was helpful the most during my stay at Duke were the personal contacts and conversations I had with various experts on topics that closely relate to my own research focus, such as Kerry Haynie or Wesley Hogan, director of Duke’s Center for Documentary Studies,” Höhn said. “Not only were these interactions highly valuable for discussion and the exchange of ideas, they also helped further develop my research approach. In a practical way, they assisted me with how I should organize my research plan during the time I spent at Duke.”

Read More

1969 Allen Building Takeover Alumni Reunite on 50th Anniversary

Nearly two dozen of the protesters met with administrators then told their stories to a sold-out audience

ABT Alumni

Members of the original group of black student activists who participated in the 1969 “takeover” of the Allen Building gather for a group portrait at Duke Gardens. (Not all pictured.) Credit: Duke University Communications.

The 1969 Allen Building Takeover has loomed large in Duke’s history. This past weekend, Feb. 9-10, nearly two dozen of the Duke alums who protested returned to campus to check on the status of the demands they issued 50 years ago and to see the impact of their activism.

The sold-out event, “Commemorating the Allen Building Takeover: Fifty Years Later,” was hosted by the Department of African & African American Studies (AAAS) and held in the Ambassador Ballroom at the Washington Duke Inn. Two panel discussions, “The Original Protesters Tell Their Stories,” and “Activism Then and Now: An Intergenerational Discussion,” were followed by a reception at the Nasher Museum of Art. Hundreds attended and watched via livestream.

On Saturday morning, the black Duke alumni who participated in the Allen Building Takeover were invited to a private brunch with President Vincent Price. Price acknowledged their role in challenging Duke to become more inclusive and diverse.

“In the action that you took, you forever shifted our sails towards the prevailing winds of justice and equality,” Price said.

Lynette Allston, ’72, and Mike LeBlanc, ’71, speak with President Price during a private Saturday morning brunch for the original Allen Building protesters.

“I don’t quite know how to say thank you enough for what you did 50 years ago,” Valerie Ashby, dean of Trinity College of Arts & Sciences, told the alum in her introductory remarks during Saturday’s main program, adding that her role on campus would not exist had it not been for the takeover.

“So something happens differently for me when I walk in the Allen Building,” she said, describing the portrait of Julian Abele, the black architect who designed Duke’s campus. “Then I go into my office … which is right outside of where you did your work, I am not confused about how I am able to walk into that office each day. I owe you a huge debt of gratitude. Our job is to make you proud. Our job is to continue to help the university move forward so nothing that you did would have been done in vain.”

Ashby joined Mark Anthony Neal, chair of AAAS, and Qsanet Tekie, ’19, president of the Duke Eritrean and Ethiopian Student Transnational Association, to welcome “the Originals” and provide historical context for their activism 50 years ago. On Sunday, the Duke alumni had an informal Sunday service with remarks by Rev. Bill Turner, ’71, and previewed an exhibit on the takeover in Perkins Library.

Many of “the Originals” had attended rural, segregated schools. They had been hand-picked by their communities — as national merit scholars and academically gifted — to attend Duke not long after the university integrated in 1963.

The impetus for the Takeover came when fall semester grades were released.

“I had black people coming up to me who had never come to any meetings or who had never spoken to me, come to me and said, ‘Chuck we have to do something, these grades are not fair.’ They had stories of [the racism] they had experienced in class,” said Chuck Hopkins, ’69, co-founder of the Afro-American Society.

On Feb. 13, 1969, Hopkins and dozens of other black Duke students barricaded themselves inside of the Allen Building, presenting the university administration with a list of demands, an action that has become a model for student activism on campus over the years.

The takeover resulted in the hiring of more black faculty, the creation of a black studies program which would eventually become AAAS, and a black student union that is now the Mary Lou Williams Center for Black Culture.

All agreed it took courage and commitment to go into the building.

“I was concerned we might die, especially if we brought guns,” Michael McBride, ’71, said. At other colleges and universities, students were being shot and killed for protesting.

“One of the things we strategized in our meetings was that we weren’t going to bring arms or touch anyone. Our whole thing was let’s not give the administration a reason to focus on something else,” Hopkins said.

“Once we decided to do that I called Mark Pinsky, ’69, at the (Duke) Chronicle to make sure the national press would cover it. We didn’t want to be an isolated event down here in Durham,” he said. “Howard (Fuller) came later in the day.”

ABT 50th Protesters Speak During Panel

During the first panel, The Original Protesters Tell Their Stories, Charles Becton, JD ’69, reads a statement from President Price.

Fuller, who at the time of the takeover was a local community activist in Durham, mentored the Duke students and later became co-founder of Malcolm X Liberation University, where some of them enrolled after leaving Duke that spring.

In the aftermath, the students were put on probation, some were arrested, and some left Duke altogether, never to return.

“We figured the university would not suspend all black students. As part of our trial strategy, we had them sign a document saying they had gone into the building, even when they hadn’t,” Becton, JD ’69, said. “It was not just the students, but the future of Duke that was on trial.”

“It’s easy to talk about now, but it wasn’t easy on that day. We could have been killed. That is not a statement in the abstract,” Fuller said. “When we went into that building in 1969, we were extending the lines of hope and organization. We took our people’s history and suffering into that building.”

VIEW COVERAGE INCLUDING PHOTOS HERE