February 1 marked the beginning of a special month of recognizing the many contributions of people of color, primarily African Americans. There are many inventions that were either invented or improved by people of color. Namely, traffic lights, GPS, caller ID, the home security system, air conditioning, gas masks, walker, and even the toilet tissue holder!
Arguably, negro spirituals and work songs (corn ditties) laid the foundation for America's musical identity. Ragtime, big band, jazz, gospel, soul, blues, hip hop, R & B, rock and roll, rap, and other popular music genres often borrow elements found in negro spirituals including syncopation, call and response, minor modality, to name a few.
As we seek to honor the contributions of people of color, let us stay true to the struggle that people of color faced and are still facing today. I invite you to program at least one spiritual with your school, church, or community chorus. Be sure to explain the importance of the spiritual and its ability to carry a double meaning (double entendre).