Let me just start by saying, (in my opinion) some of the best music came out of the ’60s and ’70s. The black music experience has always highlighted the struggles and triumphs of being black in America.
I was 10 years old at the height of the Black Power Movement. I loved everything about it. Although most of the political stuff was over my head. I realized how important this time was. I was excited to be a part of something bigger than my backyard. Even though it was a movement that affected my backyard.
As a people, we were finally getting noticed. As a result of all the previous civil rights battles, our voices were being heard. We were being elected to positions of power where real change could begin.
Me, personally, I didn’t have to apologize for my blackness. I proudly sported my Afro and wore my dashiki. I greeted my peers with a raised fist and a “black power” shout. Every person of color was my brother or sister. For the first time, I believed we could all be treated equally.
I could embrace the culture of my African past and celebrate my Native American culture proudly and I did! My black skin was a cause to celebrate! “Say it Loud! I’m black and I’m proud” rang through my neighborhood. I could celebrate with my Native American brothers and sisters and not feel like the odd man out. We were sometimes militant in our stand against injustice. But dammit, we had been quiet too long!
By 1979, most of the excitement had gone. There were fewer marches and fewer protests. It’s like we had a tantrum, won a few battles, and settled into a nice comfortable routine – Again. A few people tried to hold onto the passion of the early years.
Most of us had better jobs, better housing, and education. There were more opportunities to live the “American” dream. A lot of the same black people who marched and protested and held ‘sit-ins’, now lived in middle-class neighborhoods. It became easier to forget the ‘ghetto’ of our past.
I appreciate the strides that were made during the heydays of the ’70s. There was a united belief that all of us were created equally. A lot was accomplished. A lot was left undone. Some of the people of color that we elected got comfortable. In my opinion, we forgot who and what we were fighting for.
We accepted the small changes that were made and settled. Now our focus is on making all of humanity feel safe, seen, and heard. That is not a bad thing. I heartily applaud this new spirit of being kind and looking out for one another. I pray that our culture and heritage as people of color do not get drowned in this new movement.