“Freedom has never been free.”
– Medgar Evers
“We who believe in freedom cannot rest”
– Ella Baker
“I am not free while any woman is unfree, even when
her shackles are very different from my own.
And I am not free as long as one person of Color remains chained.
Nor is anyone of you.”
This week’s theme is Freedom & Liberation. Friday is Juneteenth, the holiday commemorating the emancipation of enslaved people in Texas on June 19, 1865. Our playlist this week reflects the various definitions of freedom within the Black community, and the continued struggle to live in a free space.
Our playlist title takes its name from Nina Simone’s famous song “I Wish I Knew How it Would Feel to be Free.” The song was composed by famous jazz pianist Billy Taylor who initially recorded the song as an instrumental in 1963. Lyrics were later added, and the song became the iconic classic in 1967 when it was released on Simone’s Silk & Soul album.
Another soulful classic is Sam Cooke’s “A Change is Gonna Come.” Cooke wrote the 1965 classic as a reflection on the struggles of the Civil Rights Movement, and conveys his hope in the future.
This week’s playlist also features modern classics like En Vogue’s bold declaration “Free Your Mind” to Nas’s empowering “I Can” to Andra Day’s “Rise Up.” Liberation comes in many forms from changing your mindset, embracing self-confidence, or persevering against obstacles. Liberation is a theme pervasive in African American history.
Juneteenth may mark a moment in American history when the government informed enslaved people in Texas that they were free, but the African Americans have never waited for freedom to be defined for them. They have always defined freedom and liberation for themselves. Even in this current moment, freedom and liberation have a distinct shape, taste and sound. While we celebrate Black Freedom this weekend, think about what does freedom and liberation look like for you. Perhaps our playlist will help you find an answer.
What songs by Black artists would you recommend? Share with us on social media @NCRMuseum #BlackMusicMonth #RevolutionaryMusic