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.
Raeisha Williams and her mother Rosemary Nelvin-Williams worked hard to open the doors of their African-inspired Heritage Tea House off University Avenue in St. Paul. Williams wanted a concept that drew from her African ancestry as well as her experiences within the African-American community. Both Raeisha and Rosemary aspire to engage the community and provide the comforts of social gathering within a cultural concept.
Speaking about Black History Month, Williams explained, “It means acknowledging the contributions and the sacrifices that African-Americans have made in America. It means honoring all of the hardships we have had to endure to overcome and become successful.”
An avid fan of R&B and neo-soul music, Williams believes these genres have calming effects because of the “strong undertones of jazz,” and said the music on her playlist encompasses who she is and what she likes to listen to based on her emotions and mood. With regard to young artists, Williams said, “I am really excited about the direction with new artists like Ella Mai and PJ Morton.”
Reflecting on her playlist, Williams said, “I chose a number of love songs by black artists because I guess ultimately, I love the idea of black love. Very early on as a child, I always heard love songs around the house and they always made me very happy. I saw how happy they made my parents. They really create a space where it’s not always romantic, but it’s just a space of kindness, love and passion and I think that can be transitioned into anything we do in life.”
Raeisha Williams’s Black History Month playlist
Rosemary Nelvin-Williams’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.