George Bush Declares June Black Music Month

President Bush

issued a proclamation on May 31, officially declaring June as "Black Music

Month" in the United States. Throughout the month, Bush said that every

American should celebrate a "critically important part" of the United

States' cultural history by "highlighting the enduring legacy of African-American

musicians, singers, and composers."

Bush urged every American "to appreciate

and enjoy the fabulous achievements of this highly creative community."

Below is the official proclamation:



America's diverse and extraordinary musical heritage

reflects the remarkable cultural and artistic history of our Nation. From gospel,

blues, and jazz to rock and roll, rap, and hip-hop, our Nation's musical landscape

offers an astounding array of uniquely American styles. During Black Music Month,

we celebrate a critically important part of this heritage by highlighting the

enduring legacy of African American musicians, singers, and composers, and urging

every American to appreciate and enjoy the fabulous achievements of this highly

creative community.

Early forms of black American music developed

out of the work song, which had its roots in African tribal chants. Through

this music, slaves shared stories, preserved history, and established a sense

of community. As many African slaves in early America became Christians, they

adapted their music into the songs and life of the church. These spirituals

eventually evolved into a genre that remains vibrant and very meaningful today

-- gospel music. This great musical tradition developed under the leadership

of people like Thomas Dorsey, who was known as the Father of Gospel Music. He

composed many great gospel songs that have become standards, and he established

the tradition of the gospel music concert.

Following emancipation, African Americans enjoyed

unprecedented opportunities but also faced many new and frequently oppressive

challenges. Frustrations from these struggles for freedom and equality found

expression in a style of music that came to be known as the blues. Innovative

musical geniuses like W.C. Handy, Robert Johnson, the Reverend Gary Davis, and

Mamie Smith were among the legendary pioneers of blues music.

As blacks migrated throughout the United States

in the early 1900s, they tapped into their collective experience and creativity

to develop new expressions of music. New Orleans became the center for a particularly

American form of music -- jazz. This novel genre combined unique rhythms and

melodies with the sounds of stringed, brass, and woodwind instruments. Jazz

captured the interest of 20th century America, making household names of great

African American artists like Louis Armstrong, Charlie Parker, Ella Fitzgerald,

and Miles Davis. The unparalleled brilliance of these and other great jazz musicians

had an extraordinary effect upon the American musical tradition, while bringing

great pleasure to millions of fans.In the 1940s, rhythm and blues emerged, synthesizing

elements from gospel, blues, and jazz; and from these styles came the birth

of rock and roll. A fabulous array of artists helped to pioneer this modern

musical transformation, including Chuck Berry, Ray Charles, Marvin Gaye, Aretha

Franklin, and Stevie Wonder.

As we reflect on the rich and distinctive history

of so many talented artists, we celebrate the incredible contributions that

black musicians have made to the history of American music and their influence

on countless forms of music around the world.NOW, THEREFORE, I, GEORGE W. BUSH,

President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested

in me by the Constitution and laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim

June 2002 as Black Music Month. I call on Americans of all backgrounds to learn

more about the rich heritage of black music and how it has shaped our culture

and our way of life, and urge them to take the opportunity to enjoy the great

musical experiences available through the contributions of African American


IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand

this thirty-first day of May, in the year of our Lord two thousand two, and

of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and twenty-sixth.