The White House began the month of June on a commemorative note by acknowledging it as African-American Music Appreciation Month.
In a proclamation, President Obama paid tribute to the influence that black music has today. He was quick to note its powerful history as the foundation for other genres of popular music.
“In cherished songs passed down through generations and innovative musical fusions crafted today, African-American music continues to transcend time, place, and circumstance to provide a source of pride and inspiration for all who hear its harmonies,” said the president.
“This month, we celebrate the legacy of African-American music and its enduring power to bring life to the narrative of our nation,” he added in his statement.
Obama was descriptive as he acknowledged the early beginnings of African-American music, not just for its entertainment but also for its value as a tool of social justice.
“From the cadenced hums of spirituals to the melodies of rhythm and blues, African-American music has been used to communicate, to challenge, to praise, and to uplift in times of both despair and triumph. The rhythmic chords embedded in spirituals have long expressed a deep faith in the power of prayer, and brought hope to slaves toiling in fields,” the president said.
“The soulfulness of jazz and storytelling in the blues inspired a cultural renaissance, while the potent words of gospel gave strength to a generation that rose above the din of hatred to move our country toward justice and equality for all,” he continued.
The president called on the American people, including legislators and teachers, to observe the designation by raising awareness with programs and activities. He wants people to incorporate music that is composed, arranged or performed by African-Americans into their tributes.
The Obama family themselves have put a spotlight on some classic and contemporary African-American music artists during their two years in the White House. Singers such as Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin, Beyoncé, John Legend, Ledisi, and Jill Scott, along with rapper Common, to name a few, have all made appearances to share their artistry on the White House stage.