STEPHANIE DELANE DOKTOR How a White Supremacis t Became Famous for His Black Music: John Powell and Rhapsodie nègre (1918) On May 12, 1922, American composer John Powell received a death threat from the Ku Klux Klan. He had dissolved the organization’s Rich - mond, Virginia, branch. Like many elite white men, Powell thought the Klan’s tactics were too violent and its handling of money deceptive. He created the Anglo- Saxon Clubs of America (ASCOA) to take the place of the KKK and tried to attract the KKK’s entire membership with the promise to preserve “the supremacy of the white race in the United States of America, without racial prejudice or hatred.” The ASCOA enacted its racism not through vigilante violence but through legislation. Powell worked with Earnest Sevier Cox, author of White America (1922), to draft the Racial Integrity Act, which required Virginia citizens to register their race according to the “one- drop” r ule. It passed in 1924. Powell then hired Walter Plecker, the registrar of the newly formed Bureau of Vital Statistics, to harass African Americans trying to pass as white. Plecker sent letters threatening to take legal action, dissolve marriages, and expel children from school.
American Music – University of Illinois Press
Published: Mar 2, 2021