NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

CNHI Special Projects

April 4, 2012

Titanic's sinking began world's fascination with disasters

(Continued)

"It's quite often the case that the less privileged suffer disproportionately in disasters," Biel said. "That was certainly true in the case of Titanic."

And it happened again most noticeably in Hurricane Katrina, when the predominantly black sections of the city seemed to suffer more, with less government help, Biel said.

In the first few decades after the Titanic, the disparity in survival of the third-class passengers wasn't mentioned. It wasn't until Walter Lord revived the tale of the Titanic in his best-selling book "A Night To Remember" that the issue of class fairness was revisited, Biel said. And by the time Cameron's movie came out in the 1990s, the story had gone from the helpful rich to the mostly despicable first-class passengers.

Biel said no blacks were aboard the Titanic, although others claim there was one black family. Blues pioneer Leadbelly sang of how black boxing champ Jack Johnson was denied passage on the ship: "Black men oughta shout for you, Never lost a girl or either a boy. Cryin' fare thee, Titanic, fare thee well."

It was not the first or last song about the sinking — and in fact, one of the enduring story lines of the Titanic is about music. The band on Titanic did play as the ship went down. Experts disagree on the song, but they agree that there was a soundtrack to the disaster.

Survivor Archibald Gracie, in his popular account, described the lowering of lifeboats into the water with women and children, saying "it was now that the band began to play and continued while the boats were being lowered. We considered this a wise provision tending to allay excitement. I did not recognize any of the tunes, but I know they were cheerful and not hymns."

And the band played on.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
CNHI Special Projects

Offbeat
NDN Video
Crews rescue elderly woman trapped inside flooded minivan Taylor Swift Reveals New Album 1989 is Full-On Pop Serious Flash Flooding in Arizona Man Poses for New Mugshot Photo Wearing Shirt with Old Mugshot Photo On It Disquieting times for Malaysia's 'fish listeners' Caught On Camera: Johnny Manziel Obscene Gesture Rita Ora Embraces the Ice Bucket Challenge Bird surprises soccer player Ashley Young during game Chapter Two: Never too late to become an artist Ice Bucket Challenge Goes Viral, Raises Over $15M For ALS Damaging Winds Stop the Show! In the Cockpit of the Air Force's Elite Squadron Pathologist: Autopsy Shows Teen Repeatedly Shot Christina Aguilera Has a Baby Girl Marvel Fans: Watch Dancing Baby Groot Over and Over! Raw: Protesters, Police Clash in Ferguson Gov. Rick Perry responds to indictment Breaking: Officials release name of police officer in Ferguson shooting Man Shot As Protesters Defy Curfew in Ferguson Justin Bieber & Selena Gomez Back Together for Two ‘Secret’ Dates
Special Features
NRA Waterfront Plans