Since its inception in 1926, Black History Month commemorates the valuable contributions, achievements, and the remarkable history of black Americans. In honor of Black History Month, I asked several black Minnesota leaders to share the artists and songs that inspire them.
A well-known St. Paul community activist, Mychael Wright has made his mark by not only creating tasty cuisine at his shop Golden Thyme Coffee, but by curating the ongoing Selby Avenue Jazz Festival every September. “At 60 years, I have an appreciation for neo-soul,” said Wright. “Very inspiring to hear our young beautiful people singing, rhyming, rapping with intellect, and deep-felt meaning and understanding. Erykah Badu, Lauryn Hill, Jill Scott, Sade, Goapele to name a few.”
Several artists that inspire Wright are on his playlist. “I am inspired by Sam Cooke’s song ‘A Change Is Gonna Come,’” Wright explained. “Something we in the black community strive to make happen every day of our lives. Our culture in music and life is so diverse and crosses so many boundaries.”
“‘Accidental Racist’ by Brad Paisley featuring LL Cool J is a song that gives a bit of hope for others to understand our struggles and to simply understand one another with equal respect,” Wright continued. “The song that is mostly associated with Black History Month is ‘We Shall Overcome’ by Guy Carawan. It was an inspirational song during my childhood. It was about rising up peacefully and unifying us as a people to overcome racism and to work towards equality.”
Mychael Wright’s Black History Month playlist
Marla Khan-Schwartz is a former Civil Rights Commissioner who finds passion in writing, music and deep conversation accompanied by a glass of French Malbec.