President Biden issues proclamation for Black Music Month

President Joe Biden has issued a proclamation reaffirming June as Black Music Appreciation Month/ (photo courtesy of iStockphoto/NNPA)

Throughout history, there has been no richer influence on the American songbook than Black music and culture. From early spirituals born out of the unconscionable hardships of slavery to the creation of folk and gospel to the evolution of rhythm and blues and jazz to the ascendance of rock and roll, rap, and hip-hop: “Black music has shaped our society, entertained, and inspired us, and helped write and tell the story of our nation,” President Joe Biden said.
he president issued a proclamation this week recognizing Black Music Appreciation Month.

“During Black Music Appreciation Month, we honor the innovative artists whose musical expressions move us, brighten our daily lives, and bring us together,” President Biden said.

“Across the generations, Black music has pioneered the way we listen to music while preserving Black cultural traditions and sharing the unique experiences of the Black community. Black artists have dramatically influenced what we all hear and feel through music: joy and sadness, love and loss, pride and purpose.”

The proclamation arrives approximately 41 years from June 7, 1979, when President Jimmy Carter decreed June as Black Music Month.

After President Carter’s decree, it took 21 years and the efforts of Dyana Williams and others for Black Music Appreciation Month to gain formal recognition.

Williams, a board member at the National Museum of African American Music (NMAAM) in Nashville, Tenn., and Cleveland radio Dee Jay Ed Wright is credited with founding Black Music Month.

“After writing President Bill Clinton in 1998 to invite him to host a Black Music Month event at the White House, I was informed that while President Carter had declared June as Black Music Month, he did not sign a presidential proclamation,” Williams said in a statement posted to NMAAM’s website.

“The White House suggested that I lobby Congress to obtain that legislation. Congressman Chaka Fattah of Philadelphia became my primary champion in introducing the African American Music Bill to the House of Representatives,” Williams said.

“I contributed to the draft language, and ultimately we were victorious in securing the passage of House Resolution 509, and Black Music Month quickly became the stage to celebrate the huge imprint of African Americans on music across the country and the world.”

President Biden stated that Black music has always stood on its own. The president called Black music “a beacon of resilience and resistance” and noted that it helped shape countless other musical and cultural traditions.

“From the syncopated rhythms of jazz to the soulful expressions of R&B, Black music spans an extraordinarily broad spectrum of genres and styles,” the president stated.

“The distinct voices and instruments of Black artists have filled the halls of the Apollo Theater in New York City, Preservation Hall in New Orleans, the Fillmore in San Francisco, and other iconic venues throughout the United States and around the world, energizing audiences and inspiring millions.”

The music created and expressed by Black communities has paved the way for generations of musicians across all races, creeds, colors, religions, sexual orientations, and identities, the president asserted.

“The creativity and spirit of Black music is everywhere, and our nation and the world are richer for it,” he said.

In appreciating the indelible contributions of Black Americans to the music landscape, America must also recognize the crisis of racial inequity that Black Americans have faced in America for centuries—a crisis that is often reflected and challenged in Black music, President Biden said.

“We must rededicate ourselves to rooting out systemic racism from every part of our society and work together to advance racial justice and equality. In the music industry, that work includes identifying and eliminating barriers Black creatives face in producing and maintaining ownership of their music and other creations. In June, we celebrate the Black music that has shaped and enlivened our lives and our country and recommit ourselves to advancing racial equity for artists and for everyone.”

The White House

A Proclamation on Black Music Appreciation Month, 2021

JUNE 01, 2021

President Joe Biden

Throughout our history, there has been no richer influence on the American songbook than Black music and culture.  From early spirituals born out of the unconscionable hardships of slavery; to the creation of folk and gospel; to the evolution of rhythm and blues and jazz; to the ascendance of rock and roll, rap, and hip-hop — Black music has shaped our society, entertained and inspired us, and helped write and tell the story of our Nation.

During Black Music Appreciation Month, we honor the innovative artists whose musical expressions move us, brighten our daily lives, and bring us together.  Across the generations, Black music has pioneered the way we listen to music while preserving Black cultural traditions and sharing the unique experiences of the Black community.  Black artists have dramatically influenced what we all hear and feel through music — joy and sadness, love and loss, pride and purpose.

Black music has always stood on its own — a beacon of resilience and resistance — while at the same time helping to shape countless other musical and cultural traditions.  From the syncopated rhythms of jazz to the soulful expressions of R&B, Black music spans an extraordinarily broad spectrum of genres and styles.  The distinct voices and instruments of Black artists have filled the halls of the Apollo Theater in New York City, Preservation Hall in New Orleans, the Fillmore in San Francisco, and other iconic venues throughout the United States and around the world, energizing audiences and inspiring millions.  The music created and expressed by Black communities has paved the way for generations of musicians across all races, creeds, colors, religions, sexual orientations, and identities.  The creativity and spirit of Black music is everywhere, and our Nation and the world are richer for it.

This month, we also honor the many important contributors to our Nation’s musical heritage that are no longer with us.  And although they have taken their final bows, their musical legacies and influence will live on in our hearts and souls, and inspire a new generation of artists and fans.

In appreciating the indelible contributions of Black Americans to the music landscape, we must also recognize the crisis of racial inequity that Black Americans have faced in America for centuries — a crisis that is often reflected and challenged in Black music.  We must rededicate ourselves to rooting out systemic racism from every part of our society, and work together to advance racial justice and equity.  In the music industry, that work includes identifying and eliminating barriers that Black creatives face in producing and maintaining ownership of their music and other creations.  In this month of June, we celebrate the Black music that has shaped and enlivened our lives and our country, and recommit ourselves to advancing racial equity for artists — and for everyone.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, JOSEPH R. BIDEN JR., President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim June 2021 as Black Music Appreciation Month.  I call upon public officials, educators, and all the people of the United States to observe this month with appropriate activities and programs that raise awareness and appreciation of Black music.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this first day of June, in the year of our Lord two thousand twenty-one, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and forty-fifth.

JOSEPH R. BIDEN JR.

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