Gary native Mausiki (Stacey) Scales, an award-winning musician, storyteller and historian, is the guest speaker for the Black History Month event, “African-Americans in Motion: The Great Migration.”
The event, which is open to the public, is 10 a.m., Saturday, Feb. 23, at First Baptist Church, 626 W. 21st Ave., Gary, Ind.
Scales, a professor at Georgia State University in Atlanta, is internationally recognized as a musician, historian, storyteller and folklorist. He has been honored with the Georgia Governor’s Award for the Arts and Humanities, and regularly performs at the Atlanta Jazz Festival with the group he founded, Common Ground Collective.
In his presentation, Scales will talk about the journey made by more than six million African-Americans after suffering through slavery, Jim Crow, lynchings and other discriminatory transgressions in the rural South. Many of them left the South by trains, buses and cars to seek a better life in the West, North and Midwest, including cities like Chicago and Gary.
Before the Great Migration, 90 percent of all African-Americans in the United States lived in the south. By the time that period was over in the 1970s, 47 percent were living in the North and West.
Scales offers music’s role in the survival of Blacks. Jazz, blues, gospel and spirituals — the music that eventually gave birth to soul and hip hop — helped them make it through those difficult times, Scales said.
“It’s important to remember those stories because it’s so relevant to what we continue to experience today,” he said. “We can’t forget the stories of our ancestors and how they survived to get us to where we are today.