People with Disabilities Get Ready: Curtis Mayfield in the 1990s

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Ray Pence


quadriplegia, African-American music, civil rights


This article breaks with precedent by emphasizing disability’s role in the life and work of Curtis Mayfield (1942-1999) and by arguing that his experience of quadriplegia had both positive and difficult dimensions.  Analysis focuses on Mayfield’s representation by journalists and other writers in the 1990s, and on how Mayfield answered their portrayals as an interview subject and as a musician with his final studio album New World Order (1996).  Considered within the whole of Mayfield’s career, quadriplegia is revealed as one among many difficulties that he answered with critical positive thinking and powerful music.

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