The National Association for Music Education (NAfME) is pleased to announce our endorsement of a bicameral, bipartisan resolution that commemorates the contributions of African Americans during African American Music Appreciation Month, which occurs during the month of June.
In the U.S. House of Representatives, Congressman Gregory Meeks (NY-5) introduced the resolution (H.Res.974) along with Congresswoman Mia Love (UT-4) and 29 additional cosponsors. On the Senate side, Senators Cory Booker (NJ) and Kamala Harris (CA) introduced companion resolution (S.Res.559) with 7 cosponsors.
The contributions of African Americans are embedded in our music culture. Throughout music history, genres of American music have seen the influence of African American musicians and culture. From ragtime to jazz, from gospel music to rap and hip-hop, African American musicians have significantly contributed to all types of American music. The ability of African American pioneers to be so influential while facing unjust discrimination throughout our country’s history is a testament example to their commitment and dedication.
The positive influence African Americans have had on our music is undeniable. Unfortunately today, students of color, especially those in large urban communities, do not share the same access to a high-quality music and arts. A recent U.S. Department of Education study found that only 28 percent of African American students receive any kind of school-based arts education and scored the lowest of all ethnicities in the most recent National Assessment for Educational Progress (NAEP) Arts Assessment. Furthermore, another study showed that only 15 percent of music ensemble students were African American. The same study found that only seven percent of music teacher licensure candidates were African American.
In 1965, Congress passed the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, in an effort to support civil rights in education for all students, doing so at the same time they adopted the Civil Rights Act. It was to ensure that all students, regardless of race, gender, and socio-economic status, would receive a quality education. In today’s iteration of a well-rounded education, this includes music. African American students deserve greater access to music within their public schools for a true well-rounded education, and all students should experience African American musical art forms within their music education because it is an important part of our country’s heritage.
In addition to NAfME’s strong support, all 34 members of the Music Education Policy Roundtable have endorsed the resolution.
NAfME and the Roundtable greatly appreciate the opportunity to partner with the lawmakers introducing this resolution, and applaud their leadership bringing more awareness to the systemic problems that still exist in music education.
For text of the resolution, please visit follow this link here.
Tooshar Swain, Public Policy Advisor, June 29, 2018. © National Association for Music Education (NAfME.org)