Its pretty hard to follow American politics today without hearing the term "woke" getting thrown around. Even when it becomes obvious that the term is just being used to describe things people don't agree with, or just don't like. The word "woke" has lost a lot of the meaning that it once had.

Yes, the word did carry a meaning at one point, more than the dictionary definition that describes waking up from sleep. It had a secondary meaning in America, one that has been lost in the "woke" shuffle of modern American politics.

Back in the 1930s, the term "woke" gained its secondary meaning from legendary Shreveport musician Huddie Ledbetter, better known as Lead Belly, coined the phrase.

The word "woke" became part of multiple terms and phrases to address social injustice, racial inequities, and similar causes. While it became popular with social justice causes in the 1970s, its origins can be traced back to a Lead Belly recording from 1938.

That year, Lead Belly recorded a song called "The Scottsboro Boys" about nine African American teens accused of sexual assault of two white women, falsely, in Alabama. On the recording, Lead Belly warned listeners to "best stay woke". This is the first recorded use of the term.

The actual recorded line says:

“So I advise everybody, be a little careful when they go along through stay woke, keep their eyes open.”

Since then, the term has remained part of American culture. For a long time, it was something only heard in Black culture. By the 1960s, it started to cross into mainstream American pop culture. Then in the 70s, use grew; even more in the 80s; but it really wasn't until the 2010s that the word exploded into an American phenomenon.

When it found its resurgence in the 2010s, it also became coopeted by politicians. However its very rare to hear a politician use it in the way that Lead Belly did. Now it is used as a label for something that people just don't want to articulate an argument against. If they just call it "woke" they feel like they don't need to explain further.

So when you hear the term "woke" today, its probably best to stary woke, and keep your eyes open.

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