Early in the fall semester of 1979, WUVA premiered “Soul Review,” the first radio segment in Charlottesville dedicated exclusively to contemporary R&B/funk music. Notwithstanding the Jim Crow reality of the city’s airwaves during the post-Civil Rights era, Charlottesville, particularly UVA, was a popular tour stop for many black musicians. In fact, the list of popular entertainers who performed on grounds ranged from funk pioneer Sly Stone to jazz trumpeter Donald Byrd.
The creation of Fire!!! is a result of the vision of scholars such as Marilyn Thomas-Houston, Abdul Alkalimat and Ron Bailey (founders of the eBlack Studies Consortium), and the late Gloria Dickerson, who view multimedia sources as a vital aspect of capturing the full dimensions of Black Studies. As Vice President for Program at ASALH, Daryl Michael Scott explored opportunties to make the vision a viable project, and seized upon JSTOR’s launch of its Current Scholar Program as an unprecedented opportunity to create Fire!!! as a sustainable digital publication for the new century.
Fire!!! takes its name and inspiration from the short-lived Harlem Renaissance journal edited by Wallace Thurman and participated in by other legendary literary figures, including Langston Hughes and Zora Neale Hurston. All three were contemporaries of Carter G. Woodson, the leading force behind the Association. and Hughes and Hurston were part of his circle. Like the original publication, Fire!!! seeks to break new ground and explore all avenues of scholarly inquiry, and ASALH intends to provide the new venture with the institutional foundation to sustain the project.
Check out my contribution to the inaugural issue. http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.5323/fire.1.1.0025