March 22, 2011

Music In Our Schools is Black History

It is ironic that the very things African Americans use
to educate are being taken out of schools. Music,
The Arts, Physical Education, Vocational Education
and other academic areas are being lost. Music importantly
has been built and defined by Spirituals and Vocalizations
of the past.
Music influences the learning of all children especially
African American's. Allowing learning to be powerful,
continuous, and transformational. Music has played a
key role in telling the story of African American people.
The singing of gospel spirituals defines the essence and
passion of the Soul of African Americans in this country
and around the world.

In the 21st century after decades of slavery, segregation,
continuous attempts at societal validation, African
American's continue to strive for equality and acceptance
in a land that itself was stolen from a native people who
share a rich musical background. Words cannot match the
emotional and spiritual acknowledgment that songs, hymns
and rhythmic vocalizations create. Songs and hymns'
resonate of independence, family values, education and
the history of generational families.

The descendants of Africans;  no matter their shades of
complexions learned thousands of years ago to use the
intricate tones, inflections, sonatas, pitches and melody
transformations to be emotionally expressive, communicate
ideas, thoughts and  converse educational and spiritual

Vocal adaptations used in the singing of gospel spirituals
or Negro slave spirituals, these culturally reflective
melodynamic words dripping with emotions; seething
with the passions of people, even the beating by slave
owners couldn't stop the love of freedom, value of family
and desire to be educated, the slave song expressed
these feelings.

Black spirituals sung with conviction, yearning for the
honey of freedoms long lost, but not forgotten. I can
only imagine a similar connection with the children of
Israel, did they sing spiritual songs? Do the pages of
history record vocalizations of freedoms from Egypt
and Pharaoh? The unknowing is not the case with
African American songs and storytelling. Music has
told the story of who are African Americans; where
they came from and the importance of education,
freedom and independence. African Americans cannot
deny their African heritage. If they choose to deny
their past musical and cultural history they choose
to solidify the cultural destruction of great, great
grandparents and ancestors before them. 

Blacks that claim they are not Black or African
American, but some other seminal concoction, are
lost in a cultural metaphorical darkness, denying
their cultural background and rejecting the songs
of a homeland where life itself started. No matter
how light skinned or "red" a person or how dark
skinned or "Negro", they are denying  they are
descendants of Kings, Queens, great historical
figures. These are historical and educational facts
shared in music, songs and story-telling. Songs
were verbal/vocal maps of the rivers, lakes, oceans
and seas of life. Math was even sung to measure
the building of great cities.

History has shown that songs, music and dance
is important to the quality and appreciation of
education in our youth and the appreciation to
the quality of our lives. The richness and
spirituality of music and songs were carried
here to America, in the bellies of slave ships,
carried across the Atlantic and other seas before
arriving in the Colonies.

These songs were dreamt, inspired and
orchestrated to tell stories, share thoughts,
express emotions and to educate.
Remarkably even in these songs were embedded
scriptures from the Holy Bibles like the Quran'.
Not all slaves practiced Christianity, that came
later; Christianity was one religion of many
at that time, equally of value was the Holy Quran'
in some cases. It must be noted that not all
Europeans where Christians and practiced other
religious doctrines.

African American history is taught through song,
our journey through time, our heritage, culture
and historical significance is passed down through
lyrical ensemble that embodies passions of
Black people. The lyrical dynamics that create
emotional responses from the awesomeness of
Mother Africa of centuries ago, the very birth
place of all men. Listen to the songs of past
from the slave journeys across the Atlantic, to
the colonialist's slavery on plantations, to the
freedom railroads, to the Emancipation Proclamation.

The songs of established Black Churches in the
deep South, the songs that helped build HBCU's
(Historical Black Colleges and Universities),
the songs of the civil rights movement, to the
assassinations of Black Leaders and of those
who are unknown in unmarked graves, resting
in river beds, grassy fields or left hanging from
trees who fought for our freedom. 

The songs of the Freedom Riders of the South
to the Million Man Marches, to the inauguration
of an African American President, the songs are
still there. Blacks should learn why we sing in
church and why we sang in schools, where those
songs came from and our connection to music.
Music is a reminder that we cannot allow our
past to be forgotten, assimilated into a European
mindset where we forget the songs, lyrics;
who/where we came from.  If we choose to
forget the songs, stop singing the hymns we
kill the song makers who worked in the
fields picking cotton, tobacco, corn, greens,
and serviced animals they could not own
themselves.  If we allow songs/gospels to be
forgotten we justify forgetting the Black men
and women that made accomplishments in
medicine, science, technology, education and
Civil Rights.

We must not forget the humming melodies of
our past grandmothers and the singing/calling
of past grandfathers. The celebration of Music
In Our Schools is a wonderful opportunity to
share with our young Black men and women
they do not need to use profanity to be
expressive in music. Young Blacks need to
hear the music, raps, lyrics from the past to
"learn" how to teach with music, how to build
and bless their families, and community.

Music should not be used to devalue our women,
music should not be used to promote illegitimate
children, glorify drug use and glamorize imprisonment.
Slavery should have taught Blacks something
other than self-destruction. Even though the
Constitution of America may hold truths of the
equality of men, African American songs sends
an equally if not more powerful vocal and
spiritual message that allows a "people" not
just a group of men, but a "people" who
recognize struggles, the birth of
freedoms and educational opportunities
achieved. Gospels and spirituals help to
define Blacks, move us and empower us as
Black people.

This Music Month allows for praise to begin
and continue to "Lift Every Voice and Sing
Til Earth and Heaven Ring, Ring with the
Harmony of Liberty."

Edited by Cheryl Williams
(Sister2sister Catering Jacksonville, Florida

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