For nearly 40 years now, we have been celebrating Black Music Month in June. In recent years, it has seemed to go by with little fanfare outside the black community and even then, we don’t always hear much about it. This year, we waited to see if Donald Trump would give a formal proclamation or even mention it. BET every year has commercials, TV widgets, and a website dedicated to Black Music Month, and it’s probably not a coincidence that the BET Awards always airs in June every year. However, overall America seems to have a business as usual attitude when it comes to Black Music Month. So as the month nears its end, I have to ask… Does Black Music Month Still Matter?
Back in 1979, President Jimmy Carter first declared the month of June as Black Music Month with the help of Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee Kenny Gamble, Ed Wright, and radio & music industry legend, Dyana Williams. Black Music Month is a celebration that recognizes the achievements of singers, songwriters, producers, musicians, and the impact that black music has had on American culture as well its international influence. The multi-billion dollar American music industry was built upon the artistry of countless known and unsung African American musicians. In 2009, President Barack Obama gave this celebration its new official name, African-American Music Appreciation Month.
“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.” –President Obama
In 2018 America, the social, political, and racial tensions seem to be at an all-time high. So where does black music fit in? The current sound in American music is heavily influenced by hip-hop and R&B. So if black music continues to dominate, then we must have a seat at the table, right? The truth is that our voices are not being heard while pop musicians are blatantly borrowing their sound from hip-hop, Caribbean, African, and Latin music, often without regard for what is happening across the country to black people. It is essential that black artists and musicians continue to tell their stories and address the issues that affect the black community.
So why does Black Music Month still matter? It matters because black music tells the story of Black America and the social and political climate in American history. In the past, it has addressed the inequality and the struggles of Black America, and at the same time celebrated the joys and accomplishments of our culture. We must reclaim Black Music and use it as a tool to galvanize the Black communities across the nation. Even now, Black music has the power to break down walls and instill hope in our communities. It is essential that we use it as a source of inspiration, movement, and pride to tell our stories now.
We should continue to celebrate African-American Music Appreciation or Black Music Month by buying black music, supporting our local musicians, and supporting the music programs in our children’s schools. We celebrate black music month by remembering the music of the past and rocking to the music of the future.
Click the link for a special Black Unicorn Project – Black Music Month 2018 Playlist