June is Black Music Month, a special designation honoring the contributions of African-American music to American culture established by President Jimmy Carter in 1979. Black Music Month gives us the opportunity to recognize artists who have contributed to the advancement of Black people in the United States through their gift of music and lyrics. Periodically this month we will feature an artist who we believe deserves special mention for their contribution to increasing social consciousness in the Black community and inspiring African-Americans to proactively advance their interests.
The first artist we have chosen to recognize is appropriately Gil Scott-Heron, the pioneering poet and lyricist who recently passed away in New York City. For a generation of Black youth, Gil Scott-Heron gave voice to their frustration and anger, and hope that the promise of America would bear fruit. His music inspired his listeners to think deeply about conditions in America and reflect on how they might become part of the solution. It is the music of Gil Scott-Heron and others that provided a cultural soundtrack to a social movement and its relative absence today has created a tremendous void.