Thanks for the comments. I’m glad y’all liked the apple on the laptop image – I was hoping that would work. As for Leadbelly’s quote, it’s quite unusual for something like that to have made it onto record back in the 1940s, but I assume it came out of his association with communists and other leftists in the Greenwich Village folk music scene. Josh White, too, was urged to make the blues “socially relevant,” I think. That’s not to say Leadbelly didn’t actually feel that way, of course.
I think the term blues in fact originated with whites. Not only that, white musicians performed blues songs and blues ballads (Muleskinner Blues, John Henry, etc.) almost from the beginning. But there was this whole, huge and grotesque history of minstrel shows – the theft of black songs and impersonation of black musicians – lurking in the background. Much of the evolution of 20th-century popular music in America seems to have been driven by the desire of black musicans and performers to stay one step ahead of their white imitators.