Friday, June 3, 2016

June 2016 is officially African-American Music Appreciation Month

President Barack Obama has officially announced that June 2016 is "African-American Music Appreciation Month," an initiative that actually started back in 1979 during Jimmy Carter's presidency. 
President Carter initially declared June "Black Music Month" but President Obama changed the name when he came into office and has been an advocate for it ever since.
Obama, who is a noted Kendrick Lamar fan, is calling upon all public officials, educators and the people of the U.S.A to observe this month with appropriate activities and programs that raise awareness and appreciation of music that is composed, performed and arranged by African Americans.
An excerpt from the Presidential Proclamation reads:
This month, we celebrate the music that reminds us that our growth as a Nation and as people is reflected in our capacity to create great works of art. Let us recognize the performers behind this incredible music, which has compelled us to stand up -- to dance, to express our faith through song, to march against injustice, and to defend our country's enduring promise of freedom and opportunity for all. 
 One of my favorite examples of African American Music is  the James Weldon Johnson poem "Lift Every Voice and Sing" which was performed for the first time on February 12, 1900 in Jacksonville, Florida by 500 school children for President Lincoln's birthday. It was put to music by the author's brother John Rosamond Johnson and not long after that adopted by the NAACP as it's official song. It has been one of the most inspirational songs of the African American civil rights movement and has been called "The Negro National Anthem"

Lift Every Voice and Sing
By James Weldon Johnson

Lift every voice and sing
Till earth and heaven ring,
Ring with the harmonies of Liberty;
Let our rejoicing rise
High as the listening skies,
Let it resound loud as the rolling sea.
Sing a song full of the faith that the dark past has taught us,
Sing a song full of the hope that the present has brought us,
Facing the rising sun of our new day begun
Let us march on till victory is won.

Stony the road we trod,
Bitter the chastening rod,
Felt in the days when hope unborn had died;
Yet with a steady beat,
Have not our weary feet
Come to the place for which our fathers sighed?
We have come over a way that with tears has been watered,
We have come, treading our path through the blood of the slaughtered,
Out from the gloomy past,
Till now we stand at last
Where the white gleam of our bright star is cast.
God of our weary years,
God of our silent tears,
Thou who has brought us thus far on the way;
Thou who has by Thy might Led us into the light,
Keep us forever in the path, we pray.
Lest our feet stray from the places, our God, where we met Thee,
Lest, our hearts drunk with the wine of the world, we forget Thee;
Shadowed beneath Thy hand,
May we forever stand.
True to our God,
True to our native land. 

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