Every week I will print an entry from my forthcoming book “US Atlantic Singles 1947-77″. This week is the turn of protest folk singer Kandeda Montgomery’s solitary release for the label:
2672 KANDEDA MONTGOMERY
Where Have You Been Today, James Rector? (Montgomery) / July 5th (Montgomery)
Billboard Pop: none
Billboard R&B: none
Released: Oct 1969.
Other issues: none.
Available On: Currently unavailable.
Kandeda Montgomery was a folk singer/songwriter from Illinois. She has a couple of songs (not these) in the Vietnam War Collection of the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress. It was unusual for Atlantic to issue such an explicitly political single as “Where Have You Been Today, James Rector?”.
James Rector, 25, was a student who was shot dead by police during a demonstration against the Arab-Israeli war on May 15th 1969 at the People’s Park in Berkeley, California. Under the orders of State Governor Ronald Reagan, armed police were sent in to fence off the park. A riot ensued, and deputies from the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office used lead buckshot to fire indiscriminately into the crowd. 128 protestors were wounded including carpenter Alan Blanchard who was permanently blinded. Both Blanchard and Rector were watching the proceedings from a roof, and were not directly involved in the fracas. Rector had suffered internal injuries caused by his shotgun wounds and died on May 19th. By this time Berkeley was under occupation by the National Guard, and Rector’s memorial service was tear-gassed. On May 30th, 30,000 people – one third of the population of the city – marched in protest against Reagan’s occupation, and the murder of James Rector.