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"Soul Has No Color"

"Poverty was not created by God," Mother Teresa once said. "It is we who have created it, you and I through our egotism."

Poverty oppresses each soul, indiscriminately.

The Presley's little boy, Elvis, knew what it was like to have little; to find nourishment in the generosity of a neighbor and spiritual healing from church every Sunday. He grew up just outside of "Shake Rag," the neighborhood known as not only the "colored" side of town, but the poverty stricken side of town.

The Presley's, like all the other poor white folk in Tupelo, lived just over the rail road tracks, the line that split the white poor from the black poor--the undesirables from the elite. Though the town had segregated it self, two fold, the children in the down trodden neighborhoods were above it all. Smarter than the adults, they ignored the lines and crossed as they pleased.

Elvis was one of these children, often crossing into Shake Rag, listening to their music, sneaking into their lively churches, and playing with other little boys who's families were facing the same struggles The Presley's were, just over the tracks. Let's be honest, as children often do, the color of your skin just wasn't as important as the creek level on a hot Tupelo, Mississippi day! If the swimming was good in Shake Rag, than Shake Rag was where they were all going, playing and swimming together like no ones business.

There was gambling and bootlegging in Tupelo's Shake Rag neighborhood. But! There was music! The Tupelo of the 1930's was a stop for jazz and blues. Well known bands would play up town to all the white folks on the "other" side of the line, and at the end of the show, head to Shake Rag.

Music would blare from house parties and street corners. Elvis Presley soaked all this up. Not just the music but the love of people, an understanding that all people, no matter your color, were the same. If you were poor white, you went hungry just like the black children over the tracks. This experience stayed with him his whole life, building a respect for all people, in a time when color mattered to many.

In 1956, Rock N Roll, blurred racial lines. Little white girls screamed for Little Richard, and little black kids flooded to see Elvis Presley. And that's why the establishment hated it! It wasn't just that the music was loud and ruled by the young, it was because it brought "Shake Rag" to the whites on the hill!

Over the years, this movement, this pre-civil rights luster has lost it's story. The people that lived it are long gone and in it's place is a new generation, spinning a tail of hate and discrimination, sadly darkening that true generation that set off the freedom train long before JFK and MLK shared their dream.

"How did Elvis Get Turned Into A Racist?" Is an actual article that reports on a belief that Elvis hated black people, though his life proves another story, though so many black entertainers loved him, friended him and worked for him. Though so many of color in the town of Memphis alone have received his generosity, first hand, and have lived to tell about it. Did that New York Times writer visit these stories, I wonder? In today's world, people don't read someone's life story, as told by many, they scan paragraphs of fiction, whispered by few, and call it truth.


No man or woman, black or white, should be unjustly labeled. And today, a Sunday given to all, man or woman, black or white, Blue Suede Connection will do our part to set the story right.

It's Rhythm and Soul today, July 15th, 2018, and we'll be spinning the music that inspired a generation to be free. You'll hear Elvis do all the tunes that made him the man he became, listen t0 black artists and friends talk about their struggle and friendship. We're going to let those that were there, tell you the truth. You decide if their story is worth re telling. We believe it is.

Patricia Garber

LIVE today WRGG 93.7, 2p to 4p, www.wrgg.org. And replaying all week on many of our fine affiliates! Check it out when you can.


"Soul has no color," James Brown