Howard L. Sacks is Professor Emeritus of sociology at Kenyon College, where he also served as Senior Advisor to the President and Provost. As Director of the Rural Life Center, Dr. Sacks coordinated educational, scholarly, and public projects to ensure the vitality of local rural life. He has served on panels of the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities and is the recipient of over forty grants and fellowships for scholarly research and public programs, for which he has received numerous state and national awards.
In addition to two books, his publications have appeared in a wide variety of scholarly journals, as well as numerous magazines and newspapers. His book, Way Up North in Dixie: A Black Family’s Claim to the Confederate Anthem (2003), was hailed as “the fullest, most finely detailed account of the musical life of a nineteenth-century African American family anywhere in the United States” and received an Ohioana Book Award.
Dr. Sacks regularly consults with organizations and communities nationwide on rural development and culture. A pioneer in the local food movement, Dr. Sacks served on Governor Strickland’s Ohio Food Policy Advisory Council to build an indigenous agricultural system that addresses the food needs of all Ohio residents. He raises sheep with his wife, Judy, on their farm in Gambier.
Way Up North in Dixie
From its debut on a New York City stage in 1859, “Dixie’s Land” has been an American popular sensation, prompting the Confederacy to adopt the song as its national anthem at the outbreak of the Civil War. Yet for over one hundred years the African-American community of Mount Vernon, Ohio, has asserted that a group of talented African-American folk musicians, the Snowden Family, taught “Dixie” to its ascribed composer, Daniel Decatur Emmett (1815-1904), famous as the founder of blackface minstrelsy. By exploring the multifaceted history of this controversial American song, we can recreate what “Dixie” might mean for all Americans, past and present.
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