Did you know that June is African-American Music Appreciation Month? In a proclamation signed on May 29th, President Obama declared the month of June as the time that we should “recognize the artists who have enriched our lives and the ways their beats and harmonies have advanced our unending journey toward a more perfect union.” He further explained, “By honoring the timeless sounds that define our past and help transform our future, we celebrate not only the musicians who move us, but also the spirit of resilience and renewal they embody. This month, let us remember the essential role music plays in breaking the barriers of our time and guiding us toward a more inclusive and more equal tomorrow.”

How can you celebrate Black Music Month with your sons? For today’s Thoughtful Thursday, GCP suggests the following:

1) Take some time this month to share your favorite Black music with your sons. What was your favorite R & B song in elementary school? High school? College? Whether it is a classic everyone would have known at the time, or a hometown jam that your local radio station played but few others did, or the B side of a one hit wonder, find it (in your collection or on the internet) and share it with him. Encourage him to share some of his favorite new tunes with you as well.

2) Teach your sons the Black National Anthem, “Lift Every Voice and Sing”. Do you know all the words to all the verses? Refresh your memory and ensure that your sons (and daughters) learn this song. Make it a goal for you all to know the words by heart by the end of June!

Lift Every Voice and Sing

Lift every voice and sing,
Till earth and heaven ring,
Ring with the harmonies of Liberty;
Let our rejoicing rise
High as the list’ning skies,
Let it resound loud as the rolling sea.
Sing a song full of the faith that the dark past has taught us,
Sing a song full of the hope that the present has brought us;
Facing the rising sun of our new day begun,
Let us march on till victory is won.

Stony the road we trod,
Bitter the chast’ning rod,
Felt in the days when hope unborn had died;
Yet with a steady beat,
Have not our weary feet
Come to the place for which our fathers sighed?
We have come over a way that with tears has been watered.
We have come, treading our path through the blood of the slaughtered,
Out from the gloomy past,
Till now we stand at last
Where the white gleam of our bright star is cast.

God of our weary years,
God of our silent tears,
Thou who hast brought us thus far on the way;
Thou who hast by Thy might,
Led us into the light,
Keep us forever in the path, we pray.
Lest our feet stray from the places, our God, where we met Thee,
Lest our hearts, drunk with the wine of the world, we forget Thee;
Shadowed beneath Thy hand,
May we forever stand,
True to our God,
True to our native land.

James Weldon Johnson