Black History Month

Black History Month Talib Kweli: Black History Month Should Be Expanded

Talib Kweli: Black History Month Should Be Expanded

By Yannique Benitez
Posted Jan 26th 2011 3:50PM

Rapper Talib Kweli made a mark on hip-hop music with his debut album, "Mos Def and Talib Kweli Are Black Star," in 1998.

The conscious Brooklyn rapper also collaborated with hip-hop artists Hi-Tek and Kanye West to create hits like the "The Blast" and "Get By." Since then, Kweli's created a website, "Year of The Blacksmith," and released his latest CD, "Gutter Rainbows," on Jan 25th.

Here Kweli talks Black History Month and what it means to him.Black Voices: What was the most pivotal moment in history that impacted you and why?

Talib Kweli: In my own experience, it was seeing Stevie Wonder perform at the White House as a child in the early 1980s. It was extremely moving, and I was fortunate to have my mother take me to see him in person.

BV: Do you celebrate black history?

TK: Yes, but I think it should be incorporated into general history. I believe in the importance of Carter G. Woodson's idea, but I don't do anything particularly special for the month. As an African American, I think it should be a part of everyday life. This country was built on the backs of African Americans and this history is the world's history.

BV: Did you celebrate black history as a youth? How?

TK: Yes, I did with my parents, but in school I don't think it's done in a genuine way. For example, my wife is from Texas, where racism is rampant, and celebrating Black History Month in school did give her a sense of pride but made her feel slightly embarrassed.

BV: Do you think black history month is important?

TK: Yes, we definitely need it, but it could be done in a better way instead of one month. I think that the celebration of African American's contributions should be incorporated in to the school system as early as possible and not just in a superficial way, giving kids information about Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks.

BV: What do you hope your children take away from black history month and your career as a musician?

TK: I hope my children can develop a sense of pride in who they are and be proud of me. I know that if my parents weren't as educated and Afrocentric, I wouldn't be the same person. I wouldn't even have the ethnic name Talib Kweli. I want my children to know that in this world they can always dream up a job if it doesn't already exist.

BV: Who are some icons and contemporary hip-hop artists you admire?

TK: I really admire Nina Simone and John Coltrane for their contributions to music, and I'm definitely not a hip-hop snob. I admire any artist who's made the effort to make a song and put out good music.

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Well start expanding it here in Los angeles where most ethnic groups don't even recognize black history month. When hispanic comes around it is all over the media.

January 27 2011 at 10:59 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I've suspicious of people who say they don't do "anything special" for Black History Month because they believe "it should be part of everyday life." History is alive in me and part of everyday living. I channel it constantly in my words and deeds. Still, Black History Month is a special time of focus and contemplation for me. I enjoy the specialness of the month and of the season. I think that people need a focal point for their energies. And setting aside a month for that purpose helps to get us on a page that we will remain on for the rest of the year. Black history is a part of world history, but there are some elements that are singularly unique.

January 27 2011 at 6:34 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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January 27 2011 at 8:58 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply