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Our Heritage - Nina Simone
Born in North Carolina, she became one of the most recognizable Black women in jazz, blues, folk and classical music. She was an outspoken civil rights and revolutionary activist
Excerpt from her autobiography, "From I Put A Spell On You" (1992)
The fight for civil rights hadn't sprung up with Dr King and the Montgomery bus boycott; it had been around since slavery days, and the movement I knew was the latest version of that struggle. Like all newcomers to it, the first thing I had to do was educate myself in my own history and understand the reasons why I should be proud of my own culture.
I read, or was told, about the great black nations of Africa - Benin, Egypt, Nigeria, all over - about how black civilisations had existed while Europe was still in the dark ages, and the days when the only civilised peoples in North America were the native Indians who had yet to suffer the white man.
At the end of 1963 it wasn't simply a question of being for civil rights. By then many of the aims that the movement had fought for in the 50s looked like they were on the way: the Civil Rights Act was made law in July 1964, and the Voting Rights Act in 1965. We knew that just because the rights we demanded were protected by federal law, it didn't mean those laws would automatically be applied in every state. But the hopes of those early years looked like coming true, and the question everyone was asking was: "Where do we go from here?"
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