HISTORY + MUSIC

African American Music As American History

Censorship, banning books, and dishonest teaching can’t stop the truth

'bumpyjonas…
Momentum
Published in
4 min readApr 24, 2023

--

The Banjo Lesson by Henry Ossawa Tanner, 1893 — Public Domain

Governor Ron DeSantis and other Republican governors around the country think they can stop the story of African Americans from being told by passing book bans and censoring discussions about race, but they can’t. It’s never going away. In fact, it’s right here in our faces, a daily reminder. It is in Black music. African American music.

‘My People’ (Duke Ellington)

From field hollers to ragtime to blues to jazz, the history of African American people is rooted in music. Songs from musicians like Scott Joplin, Louis Armstrong, Red Allen, Duke Ellington, Muddy Waters, Skip James, Ma Rainey, Bessie Smith, and Billie Holiday tell our story in America.

In 1963, Duke Ellington composed a long compositional work called “My People.” It became Ellington’s historical declaration on the condition of African Americans. Ellington dedicated part of the composition to the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. He wanted to do his part in the struggle for equal justice in America, so he wrote a song that told a story.

The song included poetry, spoken word, and show music, including tap dancing, jazz…

--

--

'bumpyjonas…
Momentum

word scratcher, baller, shot caller, born in a city made of chocolate.