Chocolate City

Parliament, 1975

What is "Chocolate City"? Washington, D.C. Why are they calling Washington the "Chocolate City"? Majority of its population is Black. What does "vanilla suburbs" mean? Most whites who work in Washington live in the suburbs, not the city. What does "gaining on ya" mean?

What does "we didn't get our forty acres and a mule" refer to? What emancipated African Americans were supposed to get along with their freedom following the Civil War.

What irony is he pointing out about Washington, D.C.? Its population is Black, but the government is white. How does he feel about "CC" (Chocolate City, play on "D.C.")?

What may have prompted this song in 1975? How many elected federal officials were Black in 1975? Now?

Why is the "White House" a temporary condition? Changes hands every four or eight years.

What is his dream for CC? A black government to go with the Black citizenry. Who has he chosen for his "chocolate" government? How likely are these people to be voted in? How is this revolution supposed to happen? Ballot, not bullet.

Compare this song with "Living for the City," and "Say It Loud: I'm Black and I'm Proud" (Unit 8): what would each say to each other? What would they say about voting? Finding a job? Housing discrimination? Bussing?

"Chocolate City" performed by Parliament on The Best of Parliament, New York: Chronicles/Casablanca [314526995-2], © 1995. Available on iTunes, Spotify, and YouTube.

For more information on Parliament, visit George Clinton's official website.

Rights have not been secured to reprint the words for this song. Please consult the following for lyrics:

"Chocolate City" was a single from a 1974 album by funk band Parliament. It features a chant style typical of funk song and an early version of rap. Jazz influences are evident in the improvisation in the horns.


Parliament has been through several transformations during its long existence. In 1955 George Clinton pulled together a quintet of teenagers in Plainfield, New Jersey, fashioning the group after the doo-wop ensemble Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers. Parliament had a single in the Top 20 in 1967, but when their label went out of business, they reorganized under the name Funkadelic, a combination of "funky" and "psychedelic." By 1970 they resumed recording under the name Parliament. They took on some musicians from James Brown’s group and maintained an emphasis on funk. They stopped recording in 1980 when Clinton gave up the Parliament name, yet again, because of problems with the record label.

Compare this song to:

"Living for the City" (Unit 8)

"Say it Loud: I'm Black and I'm Proud" (Unit 8)



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