Bessie Smith was born on the fifteenth of April 1894 in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Just like many typical Black Americans, she was born in poverty in a family of seven. Bessie didn’t know her father since he had died while she was too young to remember him. Later, her mother and brother died too. Bessie and her siblings were not able to acquire education following their parents’ death. Bessie later began to make her music in the blues genre. Smith was nicknamed the “Empress of the blues” as the taste for music she sang began to increase public acceptance.
To escape poverty, many African-Americans did the music. Bessie’s musical style, background, and effects focus on African-American culture. During her time, the Jim Crow laws had segregated the Black and White Americans in the Southern United States. Jim Crow laws represented an oppressive era for the African-Americans. The Jim Crow laws touched every single life in the southern United States.
On the 26th of September 1937, Smith and her lover Richard Morgan were in their car around three in the morning at Clarksdale, Mississippi. Richard barreled the vehicle down the road and crashed into a truck. Smith was severely injured all over her body, but a vital hurtful injury was on her right arm at the elbow. A few minutes after the accident, there passed a Doctor stopped by to attend to her. The Doctor called for an ambulance, but it took so long to arrive. Clarksdale hospital could not admit her because she was black. Naseef mentions that another car came at a very high-speed hitting the Doctor’s car as they waited for an ambulance. Two collisions had now occurred consecutively in one area.
Two young American couples in the second collision escaped severe injuries from the accident. A few moments later, an ambulance arrived to take Smith to Clarksdale hospital. The white woman who was slightly injured in the second accident is first rushed to the hospital by ambulance. Smith was later taken to G.T. Afro-American hospital seven hours after she was injured. Soon after she arrived at the hospital, Bessie died without recovering her consciousness. Bessie Smith has frequently been pointed to as a martyr to the racism in the American south. The racial violence facilitated the circumstances of Smith’s death against the blacks.