Music of the Great Migration: 1900 to 1960


About the Course

Music of the Great Migration: 1900 to 1960 is a three-credit course that is making its debut this Spring at UW-Parkside! Open to all majors, this course fulfills the upper-division elective requirement and the diversity requirement for graduation. The course promises to provide a meaningful experience that transcends the traditional classroom setting and connects students to their local community in a powerful way.  

Dr. James Kinchen Jr. is a two-time recipient of the Stella Gray Teaching Excellence award and has been teaching African American music courses in the summers for many years at UW-Parkside. This Spring, he chose to focus a course specifically on the Great Migration. Dr. Kinchen defines the Great Migration as “the massive movement of black people from the rural South to the urban North and Midwest, a movement that effectively changed the face of the United States.”16667880_10154793617265090_250838542_o

What Students Can Expect

UW-Parkside students will discover the musical roots of blues, jazz, gospel, rhythm and blues, and rock’n’roll. They will travel into the community to learn from African American elders at St. Paul Missionary Baptist Church of Racine who lived during the Great Migration.

Community based learning benefits students in a very unique way. Dr. Kinchen believes that, “anytime we can have creative thoughts about effective “town-gown” cross-pollinations, we win all the way around. We have things that we can teach the community. The community has much to teach us, especially in offering experiences and perspectives that make our more theoretical take on things more concrete and experiential.”

Community Jazz Project

Students will also participate in a culturally significant jazz project with Professor Emeritus Wayne Johnson at Olympia Brown Unitarian Universalist Church in Racine. Professor Johnson is a retired philosophy professor from UW-Parkside who has enjoyed a long friendship with Dr. Kinchen. He was moved to begin his project after considering the racism African American entertainers endured during the Great Migration.

Dr. Kinchen recalls that professor Johnson came to him with “an idea for a program that would both highlight the music that millions came to love and the ‘backstory’ of the personal hurdles that these musicians faced while on the road because of the color of their skin.”

Don’t Miss Out!

Students enrolled in the course are in for a once in a lifetime experience. Dr. Kinchen wisely reminds us that “this is an opportunity that is, sadly, destined to expire. The partners for this course, who come from Saint Paul Baptist Church in Racine, are in their ‘90s! We are so fortunate to be able to make this propitious connection through this course!” Do not miss the chance to take this historically rich course the next time it is offered!

For more information about this course please contact Dr. James Kinchen, Jr. at!


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