2020 has been a year of unexpected complexity. Most of us probably woke up on January 1st full of hope, not just because it was a new year, but also because of what 2020 symbolized–a new decade, a symbol for perfect vision, or just a cool number, full of ideas and optimism. Many of us were eager to go and ready to take on the year and all of the opportunities that lay ahead
Of course, we had no idea what was in front of us–the change, the challenges, obstacles. For many of us, the year 2020 has been turned upside down and 2020 stands for anything other than perfect vision.
So now, here we are, just a few months left of a year that’s come with more than its fair share of challenges, tragedies, and disruptions, and 46 days away from the 2020 presidential election.
There is so much at stake.
As I’ve shared many times, NMAAM’s mission is to be the hub of Black music history, as the museum will offer the most extensive collection of artifacts telling the complete story of the African American musical experience. Black music has always forged a direct line between the artists and what is happening at any given moment across our society, whether it was Marvin Gaye’s reflections on the war in Vietnam through his seminal album, What’s Going On, or Beyoncé and Kendrick Lamar urgently demanding “Freedom” from the injustices continuing to plague the Black community.
In the midst of our perplexing year, the Black Lives Matter movement inspired protests around the world in response to police killings of unarmed African Americans, and the COVID-19 pandemic continues to threaten our safety, our health, and our livelihoods. If nothing else, 2020 has reminded us of how critical our voices are, and you can bet that the music of our times will soon begin reflecting this reality. But the artists’ voices aren’t the only ones that matter, nor are they the most prominent voices that our leaders listen to. Now more than ever, our voices and our votes must be heard loud and clear.
NMAAM has partnered with the National Urban League and BET for Reclaim Your Vote, an initiative aimed at increasing political engagement in our communities and empowering African Americans to get out the vote. Today, Friday, September 18, has been designated National Black Voter Day, and it’s the first day of early voting in key states like Virginia and Minnesota. Early voting is especially critical right now because we know that the pandemic not only raises concerns about long lines on election day but that issues with the USPS could delay mail-in ballot delivery. So NMAAM, NUL, and BET are taking a moment to encourage those who live in states where early voting is available to take advantage of it if you can.
As a part of our effort, this afternoon at 12PM CST/1PM EST, NMAAM invites you to tune in for The Importance of Your Voice, a panel discussion featuring Lisa Cortés and Liz Garbus, directors and producers of the Amazon Prime original documentary All In: The Fight for Democracy, and Carol Anderson, Chair of African American Studies at Emory University, moderated by NMAAM Board Member and television and radio personality, Dyana Williams. The event takes place on Facebook Live.
Throughout the rest of this election season, we will keep the conversation going with our Music and the Movement platform and robust, relevant content offerings across all of our social media channels. Together, let’s harness the beginning of this new decade, let’s refocus our vision before the year is up, and let’s use the power of our collective voice in these unprecedented times to demonstrate the power of our vote.
–Henry Beecher Hicks, III, NMAAM President and CEO