Bob Dylan Song Accurate Depiction of Racism against American Boxer?
When thinking about political and protest music, Bob Dylan’s name comes to mind. One of his most prominent protest songs, “Hurricane”, is the story of boxer Rubin “Hurricane” Carter. Carter, an African American professional boxer, is best known for being convicted for the alleged murder of three people in Patterson New
In 1961, Carter became a professional boxer, after developing an interest in the sport while serving time both in the army and in jail for aggravated assault (Hirsch, 2000). His intimating boxing style helped Carter to gain a reputation as being an unrelenting menace. While Bob Dylan’s “Hurricane” aggrandizes Carter’s boxing career stating “but one time he could-a been, the champion of the world”, Carter’s career was not quite as accomplished. Carter won twenty of twenty-four fights, thirteen of them from knockouts, before losing the one title fight he fought in, in a 15-round decision to middleweight champion Joey Giardello in 1964 (Hirsch, 2000).
Being a flourishing professional boxer with a history of past violence, many people viewed Carter as a rebel not willing to succumb to the white establishment (Wice, 2000). The desire to convict and ensure Carter would stay in prison for life stemmed from the fear that he was an abrasive, violent person, capable of being the catalyst for a race riot (Wice, 2000). The anxiety over Carter’s potential ability to start a race riot had its foundation in an incident years earlier when Carter had made public threats to the police force saying he would shoot them if they continued to abuse blacks, along with his reputation of being a merciless boxer (Hirsch, 2000).
Carter has become a poster child for racial injustice and a prime example of the long residuals of racial tensions still found in American society. While things had improved slightly from the nadir of American race relations during the reconstruction era because of the emerging Civil Rights Movement, minorities in
With public support from people like Muhammad Ali and Bob Dylan, Carter and Artis appealed their conviction two times, each time found guilty. It was not until 1985 that a United States District Court judge ruled that both men had not received a fair trial, under the basis that the prosecution had used “racism rather than reason” and “concealment rather than disclosure”, having not revealed the entirety of the evidence (Wice, 2000). The white society of Patterson New
Dylan, B. & Levy, J. (1976). Hurricane (Part II). On Desire [CD].
Flatter, R. (2007). Hurricane found peace at storm’s center. Retrieved
Hirsch, J.S. (2000) Hurricane: The miraculous journey of Rubin Carter.
Pascoe. (1996). Miscegenation law, court cases, and ideologies of `race' in twentieth-century
Wice, P.B. (2000). Rubin "Hurricane" Carter and the American justice system.