From Protest to Climax

Neal’s chapter 2 focuses on the Black Public Sphere during an era of brutal repression.


After completing this assignment, students should be able to

  • Recognize the recordings listed below based on a 10-15 second clip.
  • Summarize the trajectory within the Black public sphere that Neal traces via Marvin Gaye’s “trilogy”: “What’s Going On,” “Trouble Man,” and “Let’s Get it On.”
  • Summarize Neal’s argument about the importance of live recordings in this era.
  • Identify and explain the importance of COINTELPRO.
  • Identify the techniques used by COINTELPRO against activists, including “black-jacketing.”
  • Identify Fred Hampton and William O’Neal.
  • Paraphrase and explain this analysis of “What’s Going On”:

    The genius of Gaye’s work is that by mimicking the diversity of communal voices, he popularized a dominant black social paradigm, precisely at the moment when communal relations within such a paradigm were increasingly fractured and disjointed” (64).

  • Summarize Neal’s argument about the “narrative silence” of “Trouble Man.”
  • Summarize Neal’s argument about the reasons that Brand Nubian was drawn to “Trouble Man.”
  • Summarize Paul Gilroy’s point about the political resonance of blaxploitation’s “amplified and exaggerated masculinity” (70).
  • Explain the significance of women artists’ “willingness to articulate the rich diversity of human emotions within black popular culture” (75).
  • Summarize the parallel Neal draws between Black feminist fiction and popular musical artists.


Listening (on YouTube)


  • Protest to Climax