Jason Aldean has rejected claims that his latest single “Try That in a Small Town” stokes violence against left-wing and Black Lives Matter protestors, even though the song features threatening lyrics and is accompanied by a music video filmed on the site of an actual lynching. Now, a viral TikTok has uncovered a previously unreported lyric video for “Try That in a Small Town” that glorifies an attack on an anti-segregationist reporter in a small town in Jim Crow-era Mississippi.
In a video shared on Saturday, TikTok user dannyfcollins scrutinized a promotional clip posted on May 19th from the lyric video via Aldean’s TikTok account. By matching portions of visible text from a newspaper clipping, the internet sleuth was able to trace the source to a May 1956 issue of the now-defunct Petal Paper based in Petal, Mississippi, described by the Library of Congress as a “small-town newspaper with local news and advertisements.”
The press clipping used in the video appears to be taken from a letter to the editor, Percy Dale “P.D.” East, who regularly “unleashed a barrage of screwball satire to ridicule segregation, white supremacy, and massive resistance to integration” according to Mississippi Encyclopedia. In the letter, an NAACP public relations consultant inquired about the reaction from East’s hometown after his publishing of a full-page, anti-segregation advertisement that had gained national attention. In his response, East notes harassment and a loss of over 200 subscriptions.
By the end of 1956, and after East defiantly reprinted the advertisement that August, The Petal Paper had lost all of its local subscribers and advertisers but was buoyed financially by its national circulation. In 1964, the publication was forced to relocate from its titular small-town to Fairhope, Alabama, but eventually shut down in 1972.
In his initial response, Aldean defended the single’s music video, which was filmed in front of a Tennessee courthouse once used as a lynching site, by claiming that “there isn’t a single video clip that isn’t real news footage.” However, his response fails to explain why he spotlighted the pieces of media that he did — in this case, a nearly 70-year old example of a small town quite literally exiling an anti-segregationist.
“He was ostracized from community, he was spat on, he was threatened with violence… because he tried that in a small town,” dannyfcollins concluded. “He challenged the southern racist establishment.”
Thank you to my followers who tag me. All I’m saying is lets get real. To everyone supporting Jason Aldean what else do you need to see or hear? Accept accountability and do better. #fyp #endracism #jasonaldean
Got another new one coming at y’all! To me, this song summarizes the way a lot people feel about the world right now. It seems like there are bad things happening on a daily basis, and that feels unfamiliar to a lot of us. This song sheds some light on that. Go give it a listen! #newmusic #countrymusic #jasonaldean