Famed for such ubiquitous folk ballads as “This Land is Your Land” and “Pretty Boy Floyd,” Woody Guthrie left an indelible mark on American folk music that has served as an inspiration for generations. Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, and John Mellencamp all credit Guthrie as a major influence.
This year marks the centennial anniversary of Guthrie’s birth. His life and lasting impact on American politics, music, and culture are the subject of the Woody Guthrie centennial commemoration, a national celebration that makes its way to Los Angeles this weekend.
Examining Guthrie as a cultural, musical, and political symbol, the event looks at him against the backdrop of several social and political movements.
Guest host Alex Cohen catches up with two speakers who’ll consider the racial and migrant politics behind some of Guthrie’s work, including the story of how Guthrie parted ways with his migrant brethren by fundamentally rejecting the racist lyrics he’d picked up as a product of Oklahoma's and Texas's legal and cultural Jim Crow laws and eventually shifting his music to directly confront racists and racist policies.
Dan Cady, history professor, California State University, Fresno; guest speaker at USC’s Woody Guthrie conference
Doug Flamming, history professor, Georgia Institute of Technology; guest speaker at USC’s Woody Guthrie conference