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Celebrating Legislation: The Civil Rights Act of 1964 Turns 50 TODAY!
It is always the strangest thing in the world to me when we celebrate milestone events in this country that are nuanced with a particular group of Americans in mind–especially when that group is African Americans. It is especially peculiar to think of celebrating the Civil Rights Act of 1964, one of the premier pieces of legislation that defined the presidency of Lyndon B. Johnson. But, today we commemorate it–Happy 50th Anniversary!
The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was a long and hard battle fought by African Americans to get Congress to pass a strong meaningful piece of legislation that would secure our ability to be treated fairly according to the law, and especially in places of public accommodation. Congress was not super sold on passing this bill as America was ultra polarized and the racial tensions of America were about to reach their boiling points during the decade of the 60s. Prior to Johnson’s passing of the bill, it had been introduced by former president John F. Kennedy. Congress had made attempts to kill this bill and the likes of the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Georgia Congressman John Lewis, and organizer A. Phillip Randolph had organized and participated in the August 28th, 1963 March on Washington to underscore the need for African Americans’ fair and equal treatment under the law.
Although revised and arguably watered down by most analyses, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 made it so hotels that were once suddenly “vacant” when African Americans solicited them could no longer prevent our stays. Those very same Woolworth counters that refused groups like the Greensboro Four (4) of 1960, only four years earlier, now had to open their counters for African American patronage and dine-in participation and not just take out. With the passage of this bill African Americans were not ever going to move the backs of any buses unless we wanted to. And, certainly after this bill was passed, discriminatory practices still prevailed because bad habits and even worse beliefs and practices were not abandoned overnight, but at least they were easier to fight and criminalize due to the passing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 on July 2nd.
Take a listen:
On Friday, July 4th, 2014, we will celebrate 238 years of American independence from the control of the British crown and King James. Long before American Independence was a conceivable idea in the mind of European immigrants looking for solace from their nations’ persecution, African Americans were here and even before Columbus–we were merchants, mariners, explorers, and of course, we were the labor that created this “land of the free” and “home of the brave.”
No matter how strange it is to have to even celebrate 50 years of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 victory, especially in a country nearly two and a half centuries old and one that would have never seen the light of victory without its “native sons”, we celebrate this legislation nonetheless.
Happy Birthday Civil Rights Act of 1964!
Rise On, Ms. Maya Angelou!
”I want to write so well that a person is 30 or 40 pages in a book of mine before she realizes she’s reading.” Dr. Maya Angelou
Today, Wednesday, May, 28th 2014, many people awoke to the news of the passing of the incomparable and impassioned author, poet, and educator, Dr. Maya Angelou at the age of 86.
Her family’s statement read:
“Dr. Maya Angelou passed quietly in her home before 8:00 a.m. EST. Her family is extremely grateful that her ascension was not belabored by a loss of acuity or comprehension. She lived a life as a teacher, activist, artist and human being. She was a warrior for equality, tolerance and peace. The family is extremely appreciative of the time we had with her and we know that she is looking down upon us with love.”
While most of us woke up glad that we had made it to “hump day” and some of us even wondered if we could make it through “hump day”, Dr. Angelou made it through more than hump days over the course of her life–she traversed mountainous obstacles while ascending to the apex of life, triumphantly.
From the ugliness of rape at 7 years old, to the peculiarity of being mute for 6 long years, and the social degradation of being a teen mother and madame in a brothel in later, barely adult years, Dr. Angelou managed to use words to evoke actions and ideas and feelings and places of beauty and strength and hope and courage and love.
I don’t find that I will have words as carefully crafted to describe this colossal wordsmith, but I would like to honor her life and the body of work she cultivated out of her sheer love of humanity.
Born on April 4th, 1928 in St. Louis, Missouri, Dr. Angelou walked among other giants in the human experience and the attainment of human rights: El Hajj Malik El Shabazz (Malcolm X), Dr, Martin Luther King, Jr., Mrs. Rosa Parks, Mr. Harry Belafonte, and the recently departed, Madiba, Mr. Nelson Mandela.
When President Obama was elected, Dr. Angelou predicted that 30 or 40 years down the road, his presidency would not be so significant because other marginalized groups would hold the post, stating that Americans were “about to grow up in this country.” Furthermore, President Barack Obama and former President Bill Clinton acknowledged her contributions to our world by awarding her the Presidential Medal of Freedom (2011), the Presidential Medal of Art (2000), and having her recite her poem, “On the Pulse of Morning” at the presidential inauguration in 1995, respectively.
Media mogul, Ms. Oprah Winfrey has referred to Dr. Angelou as her mentor, and from what the world witnesses from Ms. Winfrey, she has clearly been steered to greatness in her service to others due to Dr. Angleou’s grooming of her “heart full of grace’ and “a soul generated by love.”
Today the world mourns the loss of such a towering, powerful, and compassionate woman. And, we offer hearty laughs and big smiles as we rejoice at a life well lived.
Rise on, Dr. Angelou!
Still I Rise
You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may tread me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.
Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
‘Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.
Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise.
Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like tear drops,
Weakened by my soulful cries?
Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don’t you take it awful hard
‘Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines
Diggin’ in my own backyard.
You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.
Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I’ve got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?
Out of the huts of history’s shame
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, Mr. Stevie Wonder!
ThePoliDayReport would like to send an extra special Happy Birthday wish to Mr. Stevie Wonder!
You are music, love, light, and life all rolled into one fantastic person.
Were it not for your artistry, some of us would never see humanity. Were it not for your lyrics, some of us would never feel beauty. Were it not for your compositions, some of us would never hear the Creator…
You, Mr. Wonder, are a Cosmic Delight!
Check out this post that I wrote earlier in the year in tribute to you, my favorite songwriter, composer, and humanitarian:
HBCUs: Leaders of the Modern Civil Rights Movement
Sunday, March 16th, 2014 I had the distinct pleasure of attending the Brooklyn Museum’s conversation and exhibit called, Witness: Arts and Civil Rights in the Sixties.
The real treat for me was a conversation moderated by the Director of The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Dr. Khalil G. Muhammad, and the living, historical legend and Civil Rights Movement pioneer, Congressman John R. Lewis (D-GA).
On August 28th, 1963 Congressman John Lewis was the youngest speaker to address the nation at Washington’s historic March on Washington. Today, he is the only surviving speaker from the official program. At the time of the March on Washington, Congressman John Lewis served as the Chairman of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee from 1963-1966 (SNCC, pronounced SNICK). A Troy, Alabama native, Congressman Lewis was given an opportunity to meet other Civil Rights Movement pioneers like Rosa Parks, whom he met at the age of 17, and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. whom he met at the age of 18. As he explained to our group of culturally, ethnically, and racially diverse people on Sunday, Congressman Lewis explained that he had heard that Dr. King would be speaking in Tennessee. As a result of a $.10 comic book, Congressman Lewis grew to revere Dr. King and wanted to meet him. The Congressman wrote Dr. King a letter and Dr. King replied by sending John Lewis a round-trip Greyhound bus ticket. From that encounter Congressman Lewis wound up becoming a student at Fisk University, one of the most contributing schools to the Modern Civil Rights Movement and John Lewis eventually became the Congressman we know today.
During the question and answer period, I had the chance to assert that HBCUs are not often credited with being the leaders of the Modern Civil Rights Movement; and, I also had the chance to glean from Congressman Lewis what he thought the role of the HBCU was today. As favor would have it, Dr. Muhammad found my question “excellent” and important enough to even offer a follow-up to it by asking what Congress was doing to support these important institutions considering that students today have a “broader swath” of schools from which to choose. In my practice and experiences, I have witnessed that oftentimes students will not select an HBCU as a school option unless there is a history of attendance in their families or, if they are familiar with them, it is because their teachers and/or community members have steered them into the directions of HBCUs.
When reading about the Civil Rights Movement, seeing the speakers on the official program for the March on Washington in 1963, and learning about others that have contributed greatly to the attainment of civil rights for Blacks and others, their achievements are notable, but attention to their educational background is quite often ignored.
Perhaps speaking out against racial discrimination these activists experienced made them eloquent speakers?
Maybe their regular attendance in churches made them empathetic toward others?
These activists led because they were taught how to lead from the HBCUs. Long before they became civil rights heroes as we know them, they were somebody’s roommate, debate team member, fraternity brother or sorority sister, and/or classroom pupil on an HBCU campus getting inspired, being encouraged to read and read and read, and they were being groomed to be the leaders of their tomorrow.
From the opening of the March on Washington of ’63 with the singing of the National Anthem performed by Virginia State University graduate (Virginia State College when she graduated) Camilla Williams (Marian Anderson could not make it in time), to the closing benediction delivered by former Morehouse College President and Virginia Union University attendee, Benjamin Mays, the tone had already been set for educational excellence.
Many of the other Black luminaries on the program attended, interacted with, and/or graduated from Historically Black Colleges and Universities:
Bayard Rustin (Wilberforce and Cheyney Universities)
Gloria Richardson (Howard University)
John Lewis (Fisk University)
Floyd McKissick (Morehouse College)
Whitney Young, Jr. (Kentucky State University)
Even the “Queen Mother” or “Mother of the Movement” as she was often referred to by Dr. King, Septima Clark, was a graduate of Benedict College and Hampton University. Beyond those speakers, other graduates of Historically Black Colleges and Universities participated in and are still working diligently toward the cause of furthering civil rights as in the case of Reverend Jesse Jackson, a graduate of North Carolina Agricultural and Technical University and the Reverend Joseph Lowery, a graduate of Knoxville College and Alabama A & M University.
The Civil Rights Movement is often a celebration of the individuals whereas it should be a celebration of the institutions that shaped the will and tenacity of these selfless and committed activists. On the “yards” of the HBCUs is where the skill of debate was learned, the development of empathy was honed, and the love for all people was embedded.
It is often asked whether HBCUs are still relevant and I laugh in embarrassment at the mere thought of them not being important. HBCUs will always be relevant as long as there are civil rights to champion. As long as Black students, and now frankly, all students need to be nurtured and educated, uplifted and educated, trained and educated, empowered and educated, these institutions will always be relevant. There is something to be said about the ideals that were implanted into the minds of students like the aforementioned pioneers–the fact that many of these people are well beyond the 50 years in which the March on Washington occurred, they tirelessly continue to work for the equal rights and justice of all people in contemporary times. Their longevity to the movement and their calling to civil rights activism speaks volumes about the pedagogy that was practiced and taught in HBCUs.
There is a running joke about how traditional HBCUs are–students still have curfew, we don’t offer co-educational living (male and female cohabitation), and Homecoming is still one of the greatest events because it includes the other great pastime, football, and currently enrolled students are still experiencing similar cultural pedagogy about the importance of making the world better than how it was inherited. The evidence supports that this pedagogy works and it also suggests that HBCU alumni are always willing to give back because of a need to be able to recognize these familial and familiar places called home. There simply is no place like home.
When we step out into the world, each of us is equipped with GPS that will assist in navigating an unfamiliar world; whether it’s politics or religion or education, we learn these lessons from home. HBCUs have been credited with being spirited places that have broken barriers for Blacks in education, but they have also been tornadoes in changing America and the world. When Presidents like Franklin D. Roosevelt or John F. Kennedy or Lyndon B. Johnson were encouraged to take more deliberate action in civil rights activism, it was because of the encouragement of an HBCU graduate sitting right next to their elbows. When the continent of Africa was decentralized during the period of the modern Civil Rights Movement, it was because of African leaders like Kwame Nkrumah’s exposure to and matriculation in HBCUs.
Congressman Lewis’ response to my comment and question?
“These institutions were free. The student bodies–the teachers were free to teach. [They] educated so many of our leaders.”
Leadership has no expiration date. HBCUs are still cultivating leaders in the same buildings that created the leaders of the Modern Civil Rights Movement and in newer buildings that have been built courtesy of the progress made as a result of this movement. HBCUs have shown the voiceless how to be free to give voice to a cause worthy of the sacrifice and in some instances, death. They have taught the invisible man and woman to step into the spotlight to become the principal actors and agents of change. Most importantly, HBCUs have taught us all how to be free from the bondage that thwarts growth and the ideas that tell us we cannot when clearly we are equipped with an unyielding spirit that says that we can.
Hip Hop, Liberation & Outcasts
“There’s a fine line between love and hate you see…” ~Outkast
Outkast: Black, male, Atlanta Hip Hop, diamond platinum-selling duo making some of the hottest, consciously written music the world will ever hear, feel, and vibe to. Embraced. Accepted. Loved.
Outcast: an entity living outside of the realm of what is popular, cool, loved, and accepted. Blackness. Rejected. Hated.
On Outkast’s Aquemini album, they recorded a song called “Liberation” about the daily struggles of life, being accepted, pretentious love, and the freedom that comes when we don’t “worry ’bout what anotha nigga think.” In light of the recent Nicki Minaj / Malcolm X controversy, I traveled my memory to thoughts of Outkast and Mrs. Rosa Parks. Both instances made me question the liberties we take in honoring our historical heroes; and I couldn’t help but to ask, do we love them? Do we hate them?
We still do not even know them.
On this same album Outkast recorded a song called Rosa Parks and it resulted in a lawsuit by the Rosa Parks estate. In the song Outkast made references to the people going “to the back of the bus” and having a honky-tonk good time with Outkast to “get crunk.” The song was a declaration to naysayers that had written Outkast off as not having what was required to be the Hip Hop supergroup that they have become today. In 1999, Rosa Parks sued Outkast and by 2005, after a series of dismissals, the case was settled out of court; Outkast paid a cash settlement and agreed to educate people on the life of Mrs. Rosa Parks.
In 1955 Mrs. Parks became historically famous when she refused to give up her seat on a Montgomery, Alabama bus. Because of Jim Crow laws, Blacks and Whites were separated in all settings, even buses. Blacks were required to enter and sit in backs of buses; and, if there were not anymore seats in the “White” section, Blacks in the “Colored” section nearest the “White” section were made to give up those seats, too. Mrs. Parks, a married seamstress and upstanding citizen seated in the “Colored” section, refused, became arrested, and her actions catapulted a virtually unknown Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. into civil rights history and stardom as he led the Montgomery Bus Boycott on December 1st, 1955 at the tender age of 26.
I’m pretty glad she didn’t “hush that fuss” and “move to the back of the bus.” Mrs. Rosa Parks is no outcast.
Hip Hop artist, Nicki Minaj is now under fire for using the likeness of Malcolm X, a most revered historical hero, for the cover of her latest single, “Looking Ass Nigga.” She chose the image of Malcolm X holding a rifle as he looks out of the window of his home, more than likely to protect his family from another bombing or himself from an attempted murder. The song’s lyrics belittles men she considers the bottom dwellers of life; men that don’t have enough money to purchase over-priced bottles of liquor and are forced to share one bottle, men with an affinity for looking at her [enhanced] buttocks, men with small penises, men telling lies about their material gains, their street-life gimmicks, and men living life without a plan. While there are descriptors in this song that are easily relatable, what isn’t adding up is why Nicki Minaj chose to use the likeness of Malcolm X as the cover art for this song.
In her explanation, she said:
“What seems to be the issue now? Do you have a problem with me referring to the people Malcolm X was ready to pull his gun out on as Lookin Ass Niggaz? Well, I apologize. That was never the official artwork nor is this an official single. This is a conversation. Not a single. I am in the video shooting at Lookin Ass Niggaz and there happened to be an iconic photo of Malcolm X ready to do the same thing for what he believed in!!!! It is in no way to undermine his efforts and legacy. I apologize to the Malcolm X estate if the meaning of the photo was misconstrued. The word “nigga” causes so much debate in our community while the “nigga” behavior gets praised and worship. Let’s not. Apologies again to his family. I have nothing but respect an(sic) adoration for u. The photo was removed hours ago. Thank you”
The issue is that the image of our heroes is synonymous to the work of these heroes. These men and women are emblazoned within the images, texts and iconography of national and international communities because of their courage to be vessels of transformation in very tough social and political times. We don’t have the right to rewrite and politicize their works or images to suit perceptions that are not aligned with the archives of their lives. Nicki Minaj needs a comprehensive history lesson. I offer my classroom.
The issue is that Nicki Minaj is still unaware of the error in her choice of imagery. In her apology she stated, “I apologize to the Malcolm X estate if the meaning of the photo was misconstrued.” Sure she has eyes, but she doesn’t see. She has a brain, but she doesn’t know. She has ears, but she does not hear the hurt of communities for whom Malcolm X was and is a a guiding light out of immense social and political darkness; thus, her “What seems to be the issue now,” inquiry.
I cannot help but be reminded of Mister (Danny Glover) in The Color Purple and his reaction to Shug Avery (Margaret Johnson) when she informs him that Celie (Whoopi Goldberg) will be traveling with Shug and Shug’s new husband to Memphis. Mister’s question, through a smug grin is, “Now what’s wrong with you?” He doesn’t understand that since Celie has been his wife she has lived in his prison of abuse, misogyny and rejection just like Nicki Minaj doesn’t understand that it is not okay to imply that Malcolm X lives within the context of the men she described in her abusive and male-degrading song.
The issue is that Nicki Minaj does not realize how powerful a platform she has in music, especially within Hip Hop now. Since coming onto the scene some forty years ago, Hip Hop has always taught the masses–whether the lessons were of pain, rejection, fear, or new-found wealth, Hip Hop has always taught. But not all of Hip Hop’s artist have been well learned. Not that Nicki Minaj should bear all of the weight and be the voice for all women, she must understand that the same men she disses in her “Looking Ass Nigga” song are the same men with the capacity to be “hard-working men” or “truth-telling teachers” and “life-loving brothers” that she could groom through her image and work.
Malcolm X is continuously marred in controversy, but I wonder what is controversial about justice, rights and humanity for all people? What’s so controversial about our life’s journeys leading us to greater understandings about the reasons for which we live? Malcolm X was on a path of discovery like every other man and woman, yet we choose to disassociate our classrooms and other institutions with his history and legacy for false assertions and poor images. Let’s not.
Malcolm X is no outcast.
Our lives, how we live them, and the very essence of how we use them become our copyright. For another person to use our lives and likeness and misconstrue our body of work in any way, is akin to copyright infringement. And, it is simply wrong.
It has been nearly fifty years since the assassination death of Malcolm X and he still makes headlines whenever there is an attempt to dishonor and desecrate this “Black shining prince (Ossie Davis).” And every time it happens, the people will speak up and we will speak out because we will not stand for the assassination of his image, too.
Lessons: Youth, Seahawks, and Championships
When’s the last time you ever heard someone proud to be “old at heart” or refer to the night as “mature” or “old”? Maybe never and I doubt that you ever will.
While there is a special proclivity for the wisdom and experience age brings, youth brings a fresher set of limbs, naïveté, and a dreamy hunger that allows for doubtful feats to become attainable realities. The Seattle Seahawks are a young team with an invincible drive that drove them all the way to Super Bowl victory. Whitney Houston once sang, “Tell me no, and I’ll show you I can.”
Often times young people ignore the word ‘no’. It isn’t because they mean to defy; it’s more of not wanting to betray a mind that tells them anything is possible and that they can. Because they believe they can, they often do.
According to Fox News and the National Football League’ statisticians, the average age of the Seahawks franchise is 25.4 years old. Their game winning Quarterback, Russell Wilson is the third youngest QB to win a Super Bowl Championship. The lesson is if you want victory, youth helps.
Our nation is only 50 years off of the heels of the 1963 March on Washington. Galvanizing such an enormous number of people, approximately 250,000, happened with the help of all demographics, including the youth. A very young, hopeful and determined future Congressman named John Lewis mesmerized the crowd. At 23, he seized a moment to address the nation about racist policies thwarting the youth and preventing America’s victory. Regarding the proposed Civil Rights bill that would eventually become the Civil Rights Act of 1964, in his original non-censored speech he said,
“This bill will not protect young children and old women from police dogs and fire hoses, for engaging in peaceful demonstrations”
He’s been a champion ever since. Youth groups such as the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee(SNCC), of which John Lewis was the chairman, gave young people a sense of responsibility. SNCC’s job was to help distribute information about the March on Washington, but it was also their job to be present. Even today, young people are not complacent having peripheral views of the changing world. History supports that our world has advanced only because of the spirit and the work of the youth.
There is something special about a nation that can produce Asean Johnson, the third-grade, 9 year-old, Chicago activist that spoke against school closures.
The Seattle Seahawks’ Legion of Boom (L.O.B.), its defensive line of players, and the rest of the franchise came to New Jersey’s Met Life stadium with a duty and a mission–to win a championship and take a place in the NFL record books. From the very first exchange of the game, every Seahawk player was in his proper place, every eye was on the gridiron, and every mind was focused on fulfilling the mission. From Wilson to Chancellor to Sherman to Lynch to Harvin, these young men taught America that youth matters.
And so they won. Big.
As a nation we have to learn to respect the power of our youth. We often expect that young people should do only as they are told, never of what they are capable–and, as a nation we lose big, too. Youth plays a major role in elevating nations and orchestrating movements that older, more seasoned people have grown too weary, and sometimes too disenchanted, to continue.
In an ESPN interview Monday morning following the “Big Game” Russell Wilson commended his coach, Pete Carroll, and the entire Seahawks organization for taking a chance on him and his teammates. Not by any measure of our expectations of Super Bowl champions does a team with a roster of 21 non-drafted players, a fourth-round draft pick Quarterback like Wilson, a fifth-round draft pick corner back like Sherman, and a seventh-round draft pick Superbowl MVP like Malcolm Smith, win the Superbowl. In each of their stories is the narrative that they were given a chance. Our nation of young people have to be given more chances to apply what they have learned and more chances to play in the other “Big Game” called life.
In a post game interview, Richard Sherman was asked where Super Bowl XLVIII (48) ranked in terms of other great Super Bowl victories and his response was, “It doesn’t matter what order you put us in just put us in the conversation.”
The biggest lesson learned from the Seahawks organization? Young people matter and they win Super Bowls, too!
Stevie Wonder: The Cosmic Delight
“Not only do we live among the stars, the stars live within us.” ~Neil deGrasse Tyson
According to CNN, “the 56th Annual GRAMMY Awards attracted 28.5 million viewers to CBS.”
At one time, in various places on Earth, the atomic energy of that many people was directed to a variety of flat screen televisions to view some our favorite artists’ finest moments as they collected golden gramophone baubles in recognition of making quality and / or well-liked music.
CNN speculated that perhaps everybody had watched to see a besotted Beyonce or the vintage Beatles or maybe even both. Once I had learned the Master Blaster, Mr. Stevie Wonder would be joining Daft Punk featuring the super talented Pharrell Williams and the legendarily funky Nile Rodgers, I knew I would be happy. I felt like I had gotten lucky to be able to see Stevie Wonder in his usual rare form join one of today’s hippest groups perform their song, but to also witness the performance of one of the best songs ever written by Mr. Wonder, “Another Star.”
In 1976, he released the quintessential Songs in the Key of Life. Featured on this double album of 17 craftily recorded songs and four bonus tracks, were many of the songs that multiple generations have been able to sing to, including “Another Star.”
On this same album, Stevie Wonder included a song “Isn’t She Lovely” that he had written for his newly born daughter, Aisha, where she is heard crying. Since Songs in the Key of Life was released in September of 1976, I like to consider it an ode to me, too.
Following the success of two albums that had already amassed Stevie Wonder star power since 1973, Innervisions and Fulfillingness’ First Finale respectively, Songs in the Key of Life catapulted him into another dimension. Stevie Wonder has consistently been nominated, made appearances, performed, and been a big-time winner at the GRAMMY Awards–he has earned 22! He is more than just another star–he is cosmic delight and humanitarian nutriment!
Most of us don’t know that Mr. Wonder’s convictions towards human rights almost led to his retiring from music; and, he was thinking of moving to Africa to work with disadvantaged youth. We may never have had Songs in the Key of Life!
But then the stars aligned.
Stevie Wonder, has contributed his artistry to everything from supporting a federal Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday (his song Happy Birthday is pretty much the only rendition I sing when I wish someone a happy birthday) to famine endeavors (He co-wrote, with Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie, We Are the World).
From raising AIDS awareness (That’s What Friends are For) to the Anti-Apartheid Movement, from increasing awareness about Domestic Violence (How Come, How Long duet with Babyface) to announcing that he will not perform in Florida because of Florida’s Stand Your Ground Laws, Stevie Wonder has persevered like stars often do because he knows that through his artistry and beyond, he emits light.
I am such a music fan! Although I wasn’t moved by most of the performances outside of the amazing Hip Hop artist Kendrick Lamar and the Rock group Imagine Dragons, Daft Punk with Pharrell and Nile Rodgers and the amazing collaboration with Stevie Wonder was worth the entire show! Daft Punk, an electronic music group from France, has obviously meandered through the galaxy and landed on planet Stevie Wonder because millions watched them rock out to his genius and follow in his footsteps by winning the Album of the Year award. But then again, Stevie Wonder sends all of us into orbit.
He has always elevated artistry to a higher plateau and standard. He supports causes that will change the world and not just boost his album sales. He makes music that speaks to our intellect, not only to our carnal desires, and he showcases performances that entire families can feel proud to watch.
“For you, there might be another star, but through my eyes” the light of Mr. Stevie Wonder is all I see!
Congratulations to the GRAMMY Awards for its long-standing relationship with Stevie Wonder; he validates this awards show.
The quotes above and below are from Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson, an African American astrophysicist, cosmologist and author. His voice can be heard narrating Dark Universe. Just as Dr. Tyson believes there is no way to deny the magnitude and magnificence of the Creator’s design, there is equally no way to discount Stevie Wonder as one of the Creator’s best contributions to our Universe.
“We are all connected; To each other, biologically. To the Earth, chemically. To the rest of the universe atomically.” ~Neil Degrasse Tyson