Her Majesty, Aretha

Kim D. Hunter

July 17, 2018

You can find Aretha Franklin’s teenage church recordings online. She was a star if not the main attraction at her father’s Detroit church, where there were plenty of great singers including the pastor himself. We know in hindsight that she would develop her raw talent to become a music icon. What may have not been known is how she would use her gospel roots in her incredible career.

Towards the end of her life, the unchallenged Queen of Soul went back to performing primarily religious music. But in one sense, Aretha Franklin never really left gospel, just blended it with a secular, not so sublimated eroticism, ecstasy by any other name.

The tug-of-war in African-American culture between sacred and secular music is almost as old as the blues itself. Ironically, it’s been pointed out that changing a gospel song to a secular song is often as easy as changing the word “God” to the “baby” in a song because there’s no serious musical difference between much of R&B and gospel. Aretha along with other great African American artists such as Sam Cooke, Little Richard, James Brown and the Staple Singers made that all too clear. Her mother’s death when she was still a child caused her to seek solace in church where she was raised.

She was from the last of a generation to make “crossover” from sacred to secular music at a time when such a move was still a bit controversial in the Black church community. But virtually no one was able to so skillfully and successfully blend the joys of earthly love with a heavenly sound. One of the many tributes summed it up best by saying “Aretha could take you to church even when she was talking about a no good man.”

The first piano chords of “I Ain’t Never Loved a Man,” her pioneering recording on Atlantic Records after the eclectic early years at Columbia, are as iconic as any ever played, and as fine an example of no daylight between gospel and blues as can be had. That piano is followed by Franklin in deep, soulful...

Labor Notes
July 2018

Labor Notes devoted its July 2018 issue to the Janus U.S. Supreme Court decision and its implications. Many readers of the Solidarity website will already be familiar with the the Labor Notes coverage. If you aren’t, the issue is a must-read. Here's the introduction with links to the articles on the Labor Notes website.

The moment you may have been dreading arrived June 27, when the Supreme Court imposed the open shop on the public sector nationwide with its decision in Janus v....

Ian Cornelius
August 15, 2018

There is a joint Solidarity & Philadelphia DSA Day School happening this weekend on August 18th in Philadelphia. Find out more!

The Solidarity Midwest Day School was held at People’s Church in Chicago on Saturday 28 July. The event brought together about 50 people from Detroit, Chicago, Milwaukee.

Ryne Poelker opened the meeting by observing that People’s Church had been targeted by developers and their political allies several years...

Léon Crémieux

Solidarity is a sympathizing organization of the Fourth International. On our website we publish articles from affiliates of the Fourth International in other countries, for example, the articles we published recently on Mexico and Pakistan.

The Fourth International held its 17th World Congress earlier this year. Below is a report of the congress by Léon Crémieux, a member of the Executive Bureau of the Fourth International. We publish it to give readers a sense of the organization and its activity....

Cyryl Ryzak
August 7, 2018

On June 26th, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez defeated, against all odds, the incumbent Congressman from New York’s 14th district, a safe Democratic seat, in the party’s primary. Spectacular as it was to see a Democratic political boss (the “King of Queens”) humbled by a left-wing challenger, the real spoils of this victory do not lie in the House seat itself.

Realistically, her position to impact policy on the national level is not particularly favorable. As a socialist, Ocasio-Cortez will be isolated...

The Editors
July/August 2018

Against the Current is our bi-monthly analytical journal. Below is the Editorial from our July/August 2018, ATC 195 Edition.

THE SINGAPORE SUMMIT happened, and both principals got what they were looking for. Kim Jong-un received an important measure of international recognition, apparent suspension of U.S.-South Korean war exercises, and implicit promises against tighter sanctions; Donald Trump’s prize was a well-orchestrated photo-op and press...

Rafael Bernabe and Manuel Rodríguez Banchs
July 20, 2018

The 109th annual convention of the NAACP recently approved a resolution supporting statehood for Puerto Rico. The text refers to a similar statement adopted by its previous annual convention a year ago and ratified by its National Board of Directors in October 2017.

This resolution is a disservice to the struggle for decolonization in Puerto Rico and for equality for everyone in the United States. It should be critically examined by all groups committed to social justice in the United States to better...

Wendy Thompson
July 26, 2018

This is the first of occasional memoirs relating to the 50th anniversary of 1968.


At the beginning of 1968, I was a sophomore at the University of Southern California (USC) in Los Angeles. I had grown up in Evanston, Ill. But my parents were from California so I was drawn there by my family ties but also by politics. California colleges had a reputation for radical politics. My parents were active in the Civil Rights movement and I began marching for open housing at the age of twelve,...

Robin Peterson

Ever since I attended my first DSA meeting more than a year ago, it’s been the question: What should DSA do?

Not that members of Chicago DSA are short on things to do. There’s an array of working groups to choose from, many doing creative and exciting projects; there are educational events, parties, actions, and plenty of meetings. But as an organization of more than 1,590 socialists in the city of Chicago—what should we collectively try to accomplish? What is our plan?


DATE: July 28, 2018
TIME: 9:00 am - 7:00 pm
Location: People's Church of Chicago,
941 W. Lawrence Ave., Chicago

As capitalism squeezes more and more, people are fighting back. Left movements are on the rise across the country. From Black Lives Matter to the Women’s March, from the Fight for Fifteen to Immigrant Workers’ Rights,...

Farooq Tariq
May 2018

Large swathes of Pakistan are in the stranglehold of caricatured feudalism. These feudal relations are increasingly penetrated by finance capital as it imposes itself on social relations, politics and the economy itself. It has made the lives of millions miserable, deepening and intensifying class exploitation. Rampant inequality and poverty remain chronic issues as millions can still be considered bonded labourers. This harrowing situation is revealed by the fact that only five per cent of agricultural...

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