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Rep. Meeks, Senators Booker and Harris Introduce Resolution Honoring Contributions of African Americans to America’s Musical Heritage

June 28, 2018
Press Release

Washington, DC - Today, Representative Gregory W. Meeks (NY-05) and U.S. Senators Cory Booker (NJ) and Kamala Harris (CA) introduced a resolution designating June as African American Music Appreciation Month, to recognize the contributions of African Americans to America’s music heritage and to raise awareness of the need for greater access to music education for African American students. 

“As radio and music industry professional Dyana Williams once said, ‘Black music is American music.’ Yet, despite this, African-American music education in largely absent or lacking in classrooms across the nation,” said Congressman Gregory W. Meeks.

According to the National Assessment for Educational Progress Arts Assessment, African Americans students scored lowest of all ethnicities. Another study found that only 15% of all students in music ensembles and only 7% of all licensed music teachers are black. A recent Department of Education study found that only 28% of African-American students receive any kind of arts education.

“Music is more than entertainment, it’s a connection to a heritage and a culture. For African Americans, that heritage has endured through oppression to produce and influence the most innovative genres in music history. For students to become more engaged in their music education, it is important for them to see their own culture reflected in their curriculum. This Resolution urges a renewed effort to educate all students about cultural heritage in music,” continued Meeks.

An excerpt of the resolution follows: 

“The House of Representatives recognizes the contributions of African Americans to the musical heritage of the United States; the wide array of talented and popular African-American musical artists, composers, song- writers, and musicians who are underrecognized for contributions to music; the achievements, talent, and hard work of African-American pioneer artists, and the obstacles that those artists overcame to gain recognition;  the need for African-American students to have greater access to and participation in music education in schools across the United States; and Black History Month and African-American Music Appreciation Month as an important time to celebrate the impact of the African- American musical heritage on the musical heritage of the United States; and to encourage greater access to music education so that the next generation may continue to greatly contribute to the musical heritage of the United States,”

The House Resolution has 29 cosponsors, and is supported by 35 organizations advocating for increased access to music education in our nation’s schools:

American Orff-Schulwerk Association

American School Band Directors Association

American String Teachers Association 

Barbershop Harmony Society

Chorus America

College Band Directors National Association

Conn-Selmer

Drum Corps International

Education Through Music

El Sistema USA

Gordon Institute for Music Learning

Jazz at Lincoln Center

J. W. Pepper & Son

League of American Orchestras

Little Kids Rock

Music and the Brain

Music for All

Music Teachers National Association

National Association for Music Education 

National Association of Music Merchants 

National Federation of State High School Associations

National Music Council

New Jersey Music Educators Association 

New York State School Music Association 

Organization of American Kodály Educators

Percussive Arts Society

Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia

Progressive Music

Quadrant Arts Education Research

Quaver’s Marvelous World of Music

The Recording Academy

Strathmore Hall Foundation

VH1 Save the Music Foundation

Winter Guard International

WURRLYedu

 

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