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August 11, 2007


sandra m

After Elvis Presley's death, his legacy has been shaped in ways that distort history. First, he was not the co-founder of what came to known as rock 'n roll. Media continually mentions his name in the same sentence as the likes of Ike Turner, Chuck Berry, Little Richard, and Fats Domino. Yet, those black pioneers were already established by the time Elvis Presley came on the scene. Second, Elvis was not the race unifier he's portrayed as. Notwithstanding his collaboration with a few black artists, Elvis played in segregated venues. That's the way it was in the South. But, black musicians saw something else happen at their concerts. As Little Richard recalled, white fans tore through the ropes that separated them and climbed down from their "special" section to be where the action was-with the black kids. Those moments were cited by the NAACP as being just as instrumental as marches and demonstrations in dismantling segregation. But, there was no race mixing at Elvis Presley concerts. Indeed, footage from those concerts show no blacks in the audience. And, if somebody shows me one, he'll be there courtesy of Photoshop.

grace brooks

Elvis is my 4th cousin and you are a lier!


everybody knows he was a racist just like all the whites from the deep south.

People stop trying to make him a saint good looking yes but still a bloody racist.


“The only thing Negroes can do for me is shine my shoes and buy my records.

what about elvis freinds like muhammad ali jackie wilson james brown sammy davis roy hamilton sweet inspiration rufus thomas bill cosby


There's a mountain of Elvis quotes praising the black musicians who gave birth to the music he played. He was an unpretentious, simple kid from the American South who respected the people who were part of his life, and showed him the beauty of music. That one solitary quote was disproven BY A BLACK MAGAZINE, "JET."


Elvis was no racist!!!! that was a lie made up by someone jealous..he is the greatest entertainer in history...and the LIES about him wont take that away!!!!!RIP Elvis...your fans have your back!!!!


I had thought to look up why I had heard from a friend that Elvis was racist. From what I saw online there wasn't anything racist about him. And I wish more people would research what they hear before going around spreading lies. Just because someone you know said it does not make it out to be a fact. And I don't even listen to his music. But why try and make him something he wasn't which was racist

ron art


Franco, Deutschland

I have to correct the person who wrote in his comment :

"Media continually mentions his name in the same sentence as the likes of Ike Turner, Chuck Berry, Little Richard, and Fats Domino. Yet, those black pioneers were already established by the time Elvis Presley came on the scene."
Elvis first record was released in early 1954. Chuck Berry and Bo Diddley did not record before 1955. Little Richard recorded in the early fifties but in a different style than in the rock and roll style he became later famous for. His first rock and roll record was "Tutti frutti" for the label specialty which reached the charts in December 1955. If Little Richard would have been a "white" singer some people would have accused him that he stole the song from Eddie Bo(cage) another singer/pianist from New Orleans (name of the song was "I got wise"). Since Eddie Bo is an afro-american like Little Richard Penniman nobody seems to care. By the way Berry never paid his co-composer and pianist Johnnie Johnson anything for his ideas on songs like "Johnny B. Goode". Since both musicians are black nobody seems to bother that the royalties were never shared. If Berry would've been white he would not be a legendary composer but a thief who stole from the black community. Strangly Berry's first hit and record was "Maybelline". The original title of that song was "Ida Red" and a country and western song not composed by Berry. Did Berry got accused for stealing "white" country music since other songs he recorded in 1955 were derived from Country tunes as well (downbound train, 30 days)? No and right so, he was influenced by white music like Elvis was influenced by black music.

Ike Turner never sang on his early rock and roll records but people like Billy Gayles or Jackie Brenston who even wrote big parts of "Rocket 88" but Turner did not pay him any royalties. Since both men were black it seems political correct to many ( american?) people and no one got blamed.

For many black people there was no reason to pay a relative expensive ticket for a Presley concert because they had the same music in their own backyard to a much lesser price. On the other hand at that time many blacks turned their backs to down-home blues or City blues derived from rural country blues and listened to Brook Benton, Dinah Washington or Jesse Belvin not to mention all the doo-wop groups who were more pop.
It is unfair that Presley gets always critized for that phenomen. Bo Diddley, Chuck Berry, Fats Domino and Little Richard did never make it as soul musicians. Their music style did not fit the taste of the younger black listeners anymore. At that time they were glad that a young (white) audience was interested in their music. If they had not that audience nobody would ever heard from them and their ancestors in Europe. Without people like the Beatles, Stones and Clapton nobody would care for Berry and all the others. Today`s younger Black people would have never heard of them, too because their parents had already lost any interest. I think people like public enemies Chuck D are liars when they state Berry, Penniman and Domino still "are in the house". You can't blame Presley that Domino and Berry were not able to develop their style like Elvis did after the 50's (especially after 1967) and that every of their records sounded like recorded in 1960 and their "own people" lost interest.
To come to an end Jimi Hendrix started playing guitar because of a Presley concert in Seattle. He said he was amazed about Elvis and his stage personality. When Presley began the concert he asked the audience to raise for the anthem but played "blue suede shoes" instead. He said there was no blues scene in Seattle. And even Little Richard who had relatives in Seattle who knew Hendrix and managed that Penniman stopped for saying hello in Hendrix neighbour did not have the impact that Elvis had on the teenager Hendrix.
According to Elvis' first guitarist Scotty Moore the made sessions in black clubs being often the only white people. That happened not only during the sun record days but after that. Moore remembered a jam with Lowell Fulson in Texas 1957/58. Of course nobody was interested then.


I dont think he was a racist, just listen to his music. He may not have wrote the lyrics but i know a singer always sings from the heart.


Sam Philips of Sun Records recorded many black artists before discovering Elvis. According to Philips, southern white teens “liked the music, but they weren’t sure whether they ought to like it or not.” Elvis gave validation to those teens who liked to listen to black music. It was no longer taboo to buy the records of black performs like Chuck Berry and Fats Domino.Elvis brought black music to white america and he even grew up imitating the styles of black artists at the time so I do not understand the point of view in this article.


Some reasons Most Believe Elvis was not the racist theif others portray him.

“You’ve never walked in that man’s shoes/Or saw things through his eyes/Or stood and watched with helpless hands/While the heart inside you dies.” These lyrics were from "Walk a Mile in My Shoes" For Elvis this song delt with his feelings about social justice as empathy and understanding.

“Down in Tupelo, Mississippi,” Elvis told a white reporter for The Charlotte Observer in 1956, he used to listen to Arthur Crudup, the blues singer who originated “That’s All Right,” Elvis’s first record. Crudup, he said, used to “bang his box the way I do now, and I said if I ever got to the place where I could feel all old Arthur felt, I’d be a music man like nobody ever saw.”

In Memphis the two African-American newspapers, The Memphis World and The Tri-State Defender, hailed him as a “race man” — not just for his music but also for his indifference to the usual social distinctions. In the summer of 1956, The World reported, “the rock ’n’ roll phenomenon cracked Memphis’s segregation laws” by attending the Memphis Fairgrounds amusement park “during what is designated as ‘colored night.’”

That same year, Elvis also attended the otherwise segregated WDIA Goodwill Revue, an annual charity show put on by the radio station that called itself the “Mother Station of the Negroes.” In the aftermath of the event, a number of Negro newspapers printed photographs of Elvis with both Rufus Thomas and B.B. King

"I wasn’t just a fan, I was his brother. Last time I saw Elvis alive was at Graceland. We sang ‘Old Blind Barnabus’ together, a gospel song. I love him and hope to see him in heaven. There’ll never be another like that soul brother." – James Brown.

"Elvis was an integrator. Elvis was a blessing. They wouldn’t let Black music through. He opened the door for Black music." – Little Richard.

"On a scale of one to ten, I would rate Elvis eleven." – Sammy Davis Jnr

What Chuck D actually says - should anyone bother to ask him or check the facts – is that what he actually disliked was Elvis’ "culture-blurring genius". This is because it happened to play into the hands of a racist music industry that, at the time, was hungry for a white artist who could play black music. Chuck D in fact agrees & says that, "Elvis was a door, a gateway through to the roots. In the beginning of his career Elvis admitted where the roots came from, but did anybody care?"


That is often bandied about, has never been verified and seems highly unlikely considering the timing, as well as Elvis' deep involvement with the black music of the era. This was just an early tabloid smear of the type that would sadly continue way past his death. In fact the rumour should have stopped then & there since, on the set of Jailhouse Rock, Elvis was directly challenged about the statement by reporter Louie Robinson from the prominent black newspaper 'Jet'. Elvis honestly replied, "I never said anything like that, and people who know me know that I wouldn’t have said it."



The exact issue of the Jet magazine is Aug 1, 1957.

J. Joaquin Adames

I don't believe that Elvis was a racist. Sure, he grew up in Mississippi during the 1930s and 1940s and may have been exposed to the environs of the segregated South.Vernon--his father--was, according to some of the sources I have read, allegedly to be Anti-Semitic.But Gladys--his mother--was a devout christian and very religious woman who taught her son to treat everyone with respect and courtesy regardless of skin color.Elvis always addressed people by "Sir" and "M'aa'm" regardless of color or ethnic origins.Did Elvis utter that racist remark in 1957 about Negroes shining his shoes and buying his records? From what I have read, a reporter from Jet magazine interviewed him on the set of "Jailhouse Rock" and Elvis vehemently denied ever saying it, saying "I never said that and anyone who knows me knows I wouldn't have said it." And besides, Elvis was never in Boston, Massachusetts where it was to have supposedly originated. Let's not forget that when I was in the U.S. Army I was told by my Mexican-American friends that Elvis supposedly said, while filming "Fun In Acapulco" in Acapulco, Mexico that he would never kiss a Mexican woman.But Elvis was not in Acapulco at the time and never has been. All his travelogue pictures were made in Hollywood, California with all the background sets filmed and canned in Mexico before or after the picture was completed. I am Hispanic and the last thing I want to do is listen to the music or watch a movie made by a racist. But I am not entirely convinced that Elvis was a racist.Sure, none of his "Memphis Mafia" toadies were black or Hispanic; they were all white. It makes you wonder. But wondering is not enough to bill him a racist.


Elvis Presley was, like each and every one of us the sum of his experiences. That is who we all are. His early life was a perfect storm, [in popular musical terms], an amalgamation of country & western, rythm and blues, rock n roll and most importantly gospel music. Much has been said throughout the years to dismiss his impact on popular music, from his 'stealing' of 'black' music,[ his greatest hits of the 50s, Hound Dog, Jailhouse Rock, Treat Me Nice....etc were written by Leiber and Stoller, two white Jews from New York], to this rediculous racist 'comment' that keeps rearing its ugly head. Did Mary J Blige ever recant her incredibly ignorant statement like at least Chuck D had the grace to do? Leave it to one of the Sweet Inspirations, Elvis' former backing singers and unmistakable authorities on Presley's manner, who tore her a new ass over her comments." She has no idea what he did for people of colour in those days.." Whatever your feelings for his perhaps in later years kitch image, there is no denying Elvis Presley's impact on the world, he, in popular music terms, was The Big Bang.


Keep in mind that Elvis's tadies were just that: pathetic servants. They laughed at every joke, lighted his cigars, and one director called them (wind)catchers. I cleaned that up. It was almost as if he was getting some kind of revenge AT WHITE PEOPLE in keeping these dudes around. After all, in Tupelo he lived in black neighborhoods (in the commercial part of Shake Rag before moving to "The Hill" a churchier black area where his 'tween friends were black. The white kids in school would not see him after school because of where he lived.) Oh and his grandmother's mom was Jewish. ONE GUY told that apocryphal story about his dad for which there is no corroboration. In fact his father said he was most proud "that we never put anybody down." Then he said "and neither did Elvis." A medical doc they knew in Tupelo told Jet "the Presleys were always on ou side." I think that says a lot for white Mississippians at that time.
Elvis continued to break segregation laws whenhe got out of the Army. He attended an all black Ice Capades show and that night, climbed the conductor's stand and conducted briefly with a lighted baton. In the midst of the sit-ins! He wanted to join in in in som way.
There's more but it gets complcated and scary as the sixties progrssed. In 65, he would have been too afraid to have sung "If I Can Dream" because of what he was told of Sam Cooke's death. In 68, weeks after the murders of King and Bobby, he got uo his guts and did it.
A string og such songs followed. When the "War On Drugs" commenced he shut up. And tried to avoid suspicion concerning certain risky habiits . . .
Did he sell out? I would say walk a mile in his shoes before you judge that.
Peace and justice,


Please forgive spelling errors. Small keyboard. "Toadies"!

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