Speaking to the Congregation: The Barber/Artist as Interpreter of Folkloric Roots, the “Uprooted”, and Historic Memories within the African American Bronzevilles, 1920s-1950s

John F. Moe (The Ohio State University, retired)

This paper focuses on the community role of barber artist Elijah Pierce and draws upon fieldwork interviews and historical scholarship that outlines the development of “Bronzeville” neighborhoods in Northern cities. Fieldwork in Cleveland and Columbus, Ohio, demonstrates the importance of traditional folklore roots toward establishing the new Black communities. Following the Great Migration (1920s-1950s) in the African American communities of the North and West, and because of the various change-agents, individual and structural, including sports, music, and art, residents were building a new self-sustaining and self-contained African American community. Elijah Pierce’s (1892-1984) wood carvings will illustrate community narratives.

Part of 03-15 Folklore and the Individual, Thursday, November 02, 2:30 pm–4:30 pm