It has been said that history repeats itself and nothing under the sun is new. And the same goes for the overwhelming sense of Black pride this country has felt in recent years. Forty-four years before we were proclaiming Black Lives Matter, singer Nina Simone was spreading the message of empowerment to African American youth.
Today, the talent who changed the world with her haunting voice and uplifting lyrics, would have celebrated her 86th birthday.
We remember her fondly from her 1972 appearance on Sesame Street where she sang “To Be Young, Gifted and Black” to four little children on a studio-built stoop. “Young, gifted and black,” she sings. “We must begin to tell our young, there’s a world waiting for you, this is a quest that’s just begun.”
Initially written in 1969 for her good friend and famed playwright, Lorraine Hansbury, the song became an anthem for the post-Civil Rights Movement. Consequently it was covered by Donny Hathaway, Aretha Franklin and Elton John.
While the song is old, the message still permeates through the culture and has relevance in a time of institutionalized injustice. It is still vital to tell the youth that they are special and matter.
On that note, watch, enjoy and spread the message of love on this celebratory day.