Graduation Date


Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts

Program Name


Program Director

Judy Halebsky, PhD

First Reader

Christian Dean, PhD

Second Reader

George Faithful, PhD


This thesis examines the relationship between the evolution of African American cultural identity and the evolution of rock and roll music. The Black Rock Coalition formed in 1985 as a group of black rock musicians who were frustrated that society had seemingly forgotten that rock and roll began with almost exclusively African American artists. They proposed a cultural reclaiming of rock and roll music in order to reestablish inclusiveness within the industry and within African American culture. I will retrace the narrative that the BRC suggests to discover how African American expression led to the creation of rhythm and blues, which then became a popular new genre called rock and roll in the early 1950s. I will explore how early artists broke into the business and how that process eventually influenced new music genres and outlets for African American expression. Finally, I will illustrate how African American music continues to inform rock and roll culture and how music can lead to a more culturally conscious world.