History matters


Knowing where you come from helps determine the direction in which your future will lead. Having a solid foundation keeps you grounded and you won’t stray off too far into things that can’t be respected. When talking about history and it not being remembered, music comes to my mind especially after watching the “Let Freedom Sing: How music inspired the Civil Rights Movement” film with the senior citizens earlier this week.

Music can be the most resourceful tool for spreading any message. During the Civil Rights Movement, the message was freedom and equality for all humans no matter the race or gender. And that message was heard through music. Musicians like Sam Cooke, James Brown, Bob Dylan and many others all helped lead the nation in ending segregation through their music. When blacks and whites integrated in the music studios the public was blown away. When there would be a black quartet group, but one of the four musicians was white, fans hadn’t seen things like that during those days. But those musicians laid a foundation for what the society should use as its own and spread the message of love and kindness toward all of humankind.

However those same motions through music are hard to find today. Some of the most popular artists like a Lil Wayne don’t even respect the history that paved the way for him to be respected as a musician. Not just to say he doesn’t know the history of music or black history, he doesn’t respect it. When Lil Wayne raps lyrics that insult the death of a pioneer who helped lead the Civil Rights Movement – Emmett Till – he takes away from the work the not only the music legends put in, but the other activists like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Rosa Parks and many many others. Statements like that make Rosa Parks’ sitting on the bus in vain.

The farther away we get in time, both music and civil pioneers’ work will be in vein because their history isn’t being taught anymore. I had the pleasure of meeting Allen Brown, a Donaldsonville native musician, and Brown’s worry was that the old Negro Spirituals are being left behind. At 22 years old, I had to agree with him. Had I not been raised in a small town where grandma and grandpa’s values mattered most, I would not have gotten any exposure to black history or in general, American history. I say Americans because that time wasn’t just something blacks went through, but we as a country all experienced it. When Brown told me he still performs the old spirituals and tries to keep it alive, I couldn’t help but respect him. He’s fighting to keep history relevant so that we don’t get off into disrespecting those who paved the way for us.

If we can know our history, know what predates us then we will have a better understanding of the times we are in and the times to come. History matters.