ABOUT THE VOX POPULI AWARD
The intent of the Stetson Kennedy Vox Populi Award is to stimulate, and give recognition to, collections of oral histories taken from individuals who have devoted much of their lives to activism designed to bring about change for a more democratic, just, peaceful, and harmonious world. In choosing Dr. Dunaway the Committee recognized not only his body of work over the years, but the singularity of documenting social protest in folksong through “How Can I Keep From Singing and Singing Out: An Oral History of America’s Folk Music Revivals”. Mr. Kennedy -- who made the presentation -- is the only living subject of a Woody Guthrie song.
You can find further information about the OHA Vox Populi Award and about the conference at the Oral History Association website.
Dr. Dunaway's acceptance speech for the award is printed below:
My thanks to the local organizers, to the award committee (which I’ll be helping in future years), to Stetson Kennedy, and to my editor at Oxford, Nancy Toff. But we all owe our thanks to the brave men and women who sparked, and survived, the civil rights movement here in Georgia, where so much of it began, and where there were so many leaders.
I was too young to go South in that time; I joined friends of SNCC, at the northern edge of the movement. But, it’s an honor to be surrounded by so many real activists.
Now, talking about the civil rights movement, the FBI played a still-uncharted role in this movement. We really need to know more about this! Some of you know that I sued the FBI under the FOIA, for its records on musicians in the 40s and 50s—one form of historical activism. Before I deposited two thousand pages at the Library of Congress’ American Folklife Center, I asked the FBI if these files still existed. No, came the answer, but they did have a file on one David Dunaway—folksinger. Well, for me, that’s definitely a promotion and a new opportunity.
So, in the spirit of Stetson’s friend Woody Guthrie, I’ll close with a snatch of song (to the tune of “Acres of Clams”). Woody wrote when an FBI man asked if he’d fight for his country:
I answered the FBI: Yea,
I will point a gun for my country,
but I won’t guarantee you which way.