UW Tacoma Professor Michael Honey Brings the ‘Music of Protest’ to UW 360

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Michael Honey, UW Tacoma's Fred and Dorothy Haley Professor of Humanities, recently made his way out of the classroom and onto the television screen, as part of a featured segment on UW 360.

The Emmy Award-winning magazine-style program produced by UWTV turned its cameras on Honey to discuss his new book, Sharecropper’s Troubadour: John L. Handcox, the Southern Tenant Farmers' Union, and the African American Song Tradition.

During the segment titled ‘Music of Protest,’ Honey discussed the work and the influence of John L. Handcox, who went from being the son of a poor sharecropper in Arkansas in the early 1900s to having musician Pete Seeger acknowledge him as “one of the most important folk singers of the 20th Century, and one of the least-known of all of them.”

Handcox used poetry and song to speak out on the social injustices that he witnessed in the South. His words bridged the racial divide between farm workers in the Southern Tenant Farmers’ Union, and helped motivate them to seek change. “He was saying to people, ‘I’m trying to show you what things are like, why they’re wrong and why you have to do something about it,” Honey says.

With Sharecropper’s Troubadour, and through his speaking engagements, Honey is working to make sure the words of Handcox are heard, even if it’s for the first time.

As Honey states, “If this history happened and we don’t know that it happened, then what good did it do?”

If you missed the program’s initial airing, the entire UW 360 segment featuring Mike Honey can be viewed here:

Sharecropper’s Troubadour can be purchased in the UW Tacoma bookstore, as well as online.

Update, Nov. 25, 2014: Read Honey's Smithsonian Folkways magazine article about John Handcox here.

Written by: 
Kevin Yeoman / October 8, 2014
Media contact: 

John Burkhardt, Media Relations, 253-692-4536, johnbjr@uw.edu