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December 2002

Enduring Through Music: Here, There, and Everywhere

When we think of the unfair and unjust, we immediately think of both “anywhere but here” and “not here, not there, not anywhere.” When we think of that which is fair and just, we think “here, there, and everywhere.”

This appendix carries more detailed examples of how Blacks have endured White oppression, nationwide, especially through our music, which for us is “here, there, and everywhere.” Lyrics listed below are for these songs:

“Keep on Pushing” “We’re a Winner” “Move on Up” “Say it Loud, I’m Black and I’m Proud” “Ain’t No Stoppin’ Us Now” “Save the Children” “What’s Going On” “Redemption Song”

Think of Black music and soul and rhythm and blues as ways to overcome and transcend the treatment Whites wouldn’t want done to them. Despite it all, we have maintained a wonderful attitude.

Stella may have lost her groove and had to get it back. But Blacks have always had their groove, whether the riffs of Jazz, the soul-satisfying Negro Spirituals during slave days and beyond, the uplifting of “Amazing Grace,” the syncopation of the Black-invented banjo, our dealing with inequities through the singing of the blues while keeping our spirits up with ragtime and honky tonk, whether we danced to the jazz piano of Jelly Roll Morton or the soul piano of Ray Charles, or the soaring jazz trumpet of Louis “Satchmo” Armstrong, the guitar of Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown, the marimba of Lionel Hampton, or we mentally swung to the jazz of Preservation Hall in New Orleans, or Duke Ellington in Harlem’s Cotton Club, with the Congeroo, Lindy Hop, and the Conga at Harlem’s Savoy Ballroom, or the wondrous sounds of Leadbelly, Josh White, Muddy Waters, David “Honeyboy” Edwards, B.B. King, Charlie Parker, Fats Domino, Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Miles Davis, Sam Cooke, the Motown sounds, James Brown, Jimi Hendrix, Curtis Mayfield, not to mention the great ladies of song: Ruth Brown, Bessie Smith, Billie Holiday, Lena Horn, Dorothy Dandridge, Arethra Franklin, Diana Ross, and so many more.

Blacks on chain gangs and work crews passed the time singing work songs and spirituals. They could chain us but they could not break us. They could claim our bodies but they could not claim our spirits. For centuries in America, we have sung the songs that have been our saving grace through generations of abuse, the kind of Pentecostal jazz disco that shaped Elvis Presley (rock & roll is a form of Black blues music). Our music was necessary for our indigent community’s survival, keeping us in touch with the higher Spirits of life through good times and bad. Indeed, music is even more important to some Black teenagers than sports. Music was always the vehicle through which a slave could travel through time substituting fantasy for reality. Some tunes were sad, some happy, and some triumphant. There were church songs, work songs, love songs, and folk songs. And this is true of any oppressed people. But even our music has slipped. We need more Black artists standing up as James Brown did with his “Don’t Be a Drop-Out,” and “Say it Loud, I’m Black and I’m Proud,” and “Open Up The Door,” or Curtis Mayfield’s “Keep on Pushing,” We’re a Winner,” “People get Ready,” and “We’re Moving on Up,” or the McFadden and Whitehead song, “Ain’t No Stoppin’ Us Now.”

Too many Black artists today glorify sex and drugs and depravity and negativity. They hurt our young Black men when, with their music, as the musicians of old, they could help them, lift them up, so they don’t wind up as drop-outs, that that respond that they are Black and proud, not down and out, and keep on pushing to move up. We considered these our anthems. Below are the words to several of the songs that meant much to my generation. When young Black men start getting excited about this kind of music again, when young Black music moguls return to the reality of life as Black men in America, rather than the pursuit of riches and appearances on TV shows where they can brag about their “cribs” and “living large,” then we will be back on the right track. For them, who may read this, I offer these songs as a hope that it will inspire them to seek a way to inspire young Black men to aspire, not expire on drugs and violence. These were our anthems. I urge today’s young Black musicians to develop anthems for their generation as well, anthems of hope and overcoming, of not taking their eyes off the prize, freedom politically and economically for all. Curtis Mayfield, particularly, is misunderstood by gangsta rap that tries to immitate him, as for Curtis, he advocated that young men make themselves into the ultimate soul man, which for hiim meant anti-drug and anti- violence.

Here are key excerpts from their songs. We need more of them for our Black inner city youth today:

Curtis Mayfield “Keep on Pushing” Keep on pushing Keep on pushing I got to keep on pushing, I can’t stop now Move up a little higher Some way or some how Cause I’ve got my strength Don’t make sense, not to Keep on pushing Hallelu-jah Hallelu-jah Keep on pushing

“We’re a Winner”’re%20a%20Winner We’re a winner and never let anybody say, “boy you can’t make it” Cause a feeble mind is in your way No more tears do we cry And we have finally dried our eyes And we’re moving on up Lord have mercy, we’re moving on up

“Move on Up” and Hush now child and don’t you cry Your folks might understand you by and by Move on up towards your destination You may find from time to time Complications Bight your lip and take a trip Though there may be wet road ahead You cannot slip So move on up and peace you will find Into the steeple of beautiful people Where there’s only one kind So hush now child and don’t you cry Your folks might understand you by and by Just move on up and keep on wishing Remember your dreams are your only schemes So keep on pushing Take nothing less - not even second best And do not obey - you must have your say You can past the test Move on up!

“Don’t Be A Drop Out”

“Say it Loud, I’m Black and I’m Proud” Work your bad self Say it loud “I’m black and I’m proud” Say it loud “I’m black and I’m proud” Look here, some people say we got a lot of malice some say it’s a lot of nerve but I say we won’t quit moving until we get what we deserve. We’ve been buked and we’ve been scarred we’ve been treated bad, talked about as sure as you born. But just as sure as it takes two eyes to make a pair, brother we can’t quit until we get our share. Say it loud “I’m black and I’m proud” Say it loud “I’m black and I’m proud” One more time Say it loud “I’m black and I’m proud” Alright, out of sight Say it loud “I’m black and I’m proud” Say it loud “I’m black and I’m proud” Say it loud “I’m black and I’m proud” Say it loud “I’m black and I’m proud”

McFadden and Whitehead “Ain’t No Stoppin’ Us Now” Ain’t no stopping us now, we’re on the move Ain’t no stopping us now, we got the groove There’s been so many things That held us down But now it looks like things Are finally coming around I know we’ve got A long long way to go And where we’ll end up I don’t know (Chorus) But we won’t let nothin’ hold us back Put our show together We’re polishing up our act well And if you’ve ever been Held down before I know you refuse to be Held down any more Don’t you let nothin’ stand in your way I want y’all to listen Listen to every word I say Every word I say I know you know someone Who has a negative vibe And if you’re trying to make it They only push you aside They really don’t have nowhere to go Ask them where they’re goin’ They don’t know

Marvin Gaye “Save the Children” I just want to ask a question Who really cares? To save a world in despair There’ll come a time, when the world won’t be singin’ Flowers won’t grow, bells won’t be ringin’ Who really cares? Who’s willing to try to save a world That’s destined to die When I look at the world it fills me with sorrow Little children today are really gonna suffer tomorrow Oh what a shame, such a bad way to live All who is to blame, we can’t stop livin’ Live, live for life But let live everybody Live life for the children Oh, for the children You see, let’s save the children Let’s save all the children Save the babies, save the babies If you wanna love, you got to save the babies All of the children But who really cares Who’s willing to try Yes, to save a world Yea, save our sweet world Save a world that is destined to die Oh, la, la, la, la, la, la, la Oh, oh dig it everybody

“What’s Going On” Mother, mother There’s too many of you crying Brother, brother, brother There’s far too many of you dying You know we’ve got to find a way To bring some lovin’ here today - Ya Father, father We don’t need to escalate You see, war is not the answer For only love can conquer hate You know we’ve got to find a way To bring some lovin’ here today Picket lines and picket signs Don’t punish me with brutality Talk to me, so you can see Oh, what’s going on What’s going on Ya, what’s going on Ah, what’s going on In the mean time Right on, baby Right on Right on Oh, you know we’ve got to find a way To bring some understanding here today. Oh

Bob Marley “Redemption Song” Old pirates, yes, they rob I, sold I to the merchant ships. Minutes after they took I, from the bottomless pit. But my hand was made strong by the hand of the Almighty. We forward in this generation, triumphantly. Won’t you help to sing, these songs of freedom? Cause all I ever have, redemption songs, redemption songs. Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery, none but ourselves can free our minds. Have no fear for atomic energy, cause none of them can stop the time. How long shall they kill our prophets, while we stand aside and look? Oh, some say it’s just a part of it, we’ve got to fulfil the book. Won’t you help to sing these songs of freedom? Cause all I ever have, redemption songs, redemption songs, redemption songs.

Beacon on the Hill Press
Publisher of The Minneapolis Story Through My Eyes
By Ron Edwards as told to Peter Jessen
December 2002

Ron hosts “Black Focus” on Channel 17, MTN-TV, Sundays, 5-6 pm. Formerly head of the Minneapolis Civil Rights Commission and the Urban League, he continues his “watchdog” role for Minneapolis. Order his book, hear his voice, read his solution papers, and read his between columns “web log” at

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