Black History Month is an annual recognizance originating in the United States, where it is also known as African-American History Month. Black History Month is an opportunity to understand Black histories, going beyond stories of racism and slavery to spotlight Black achievement. It has received official recognition from governments in the United States and Canada, and more recently has been observed in Ireland, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom. February is African American History Month. Paying tribute to the generations of African Americans who struggled with adversity to ascertain a well imagined equal society.
February is Black History Month. This month-long observance in the US and Canada is a chance to celebrate Black achievement. This year, it also follows a tumultuous period where racial justice calls reached a fever pitch, providing a fresh reminder to take stock of where systemic racism persists and give visibility to the people and organizations creating change.
One very dominant feature in the Black history month is the music that has accompanied the struggle over the years. Music has always been about shared experiences in life. For any emotion one feels, it’s relatively easy to find a corresponding song. The same holds true with society where groups of people share songs to connect on a deeper level. The Black experience has a long history and so it would be proper to holistically cover it from the musical angle. Below are the top five pop songs which describe and properly express the black man’s struggles and concerns over the last sixty years. There are no marks for popularity, and they aren’t listed in order of importance. They are all just influential in some way, they include:
“A Change Is Gonna Come” by Sam Cooke: Sam Cooke was perhaps the premier pop performer of the Sixties. His smooth voice and slick songs about young love and dancing were beloved by millions, but popularity didn’t mean acceptance. Cooke wrote A Change Is Gonna Come. It was a huge risk for him. Directly addressing the treatment of African Americans, he tossed aside his usual light fare. Upon release, the song was immediately accepted as an anthem by the Civil Rights Movement. Unfortunately, Cooke never saw that, having died two weeks before.
“Brown Eyed Handsome Man” by Chuck Berry: Chuck Berry chose to cloak his intention unlike Cooke. Berry, always an incredibly clever lyricist, tells some examples of triumph throughout history, ending with Jackie Robinson.
“What’s Going On” by Marvin Gaye: Gaye grew tired of singing love songs and wanted to expand into socially conscious music. Berry Gordy didn’t think anyone was ready for such a romantic singer to sing political songs. Gaye said that he wouldn’t deliver another album unless he could do what he wanted. So he recorded What’s Going On, which was written by Obie Benson from the Four Tops along with Al Cleveland and Gaye himself.
“The Revolution Will Not Be Televised” by Gil Scott-Heron: In The Revolution Will Not Be Televised, Scott-Heron ridicules (then contemporary) politicians, media figures and advertising we wouldn’t be seeing when the revolution happens, because the media would never cover it. With a savage wit and sense of humor, Scott-Heron calls out consumerism, and complacency in times of crisis. And while many of the references seem dated, the message is still echoed today.
“Say It Out Loud- I’m Black And I’m Proud” by James Brown: In the late Sixties, the polite term for African Americans was Negro. Calling someone “Black” was considered something of a put down. In this song, James Brown says that he is proud of being BLACK and he insists that the audience say it too. As homage, the song has been sampled in countless hip-hop songs.
These five songs, though quite ancient, yet rich in lyrical carriage is a very good way to enjoy the black history month.