This is not the first time a president has declared June Black Music month; in fact, Jimmy Carter did it back in 1979. Obama wanted to take it one step further, though, with an official proclamation. He felt it was fitting, as he is the first black president.
In his proclamation, Obama called African-American music “among the most innovative and powerful art the world has ever known.” He also called on “public officials, educators, and people of the United States to observe this month with appropriate activities and programs that raise awareness and foster appreciation of music that is composed, arranged, or performed by African Americans.”
Obama has always shared his love for black artists like Kendrick Lamar and Mos Def as well as Mary J. Blige and Erykah Badu. He has even gone so far as to meet with all sorts of artists, from J. Cole to Chance the Rapper to Nicki Minaj to Pusha T, to discuss the My Brother’s Keeper initiative. This is a way for the country to address what he sees as persistent opportunity gaps faced by boys and young men of color.
“This month, we celebrate the music that reminds us that our growth as a Nation and as people is reflected in our capacity to create great works of art,” Obama said. “Let us recognize the performers behind this incredible music, which has compelled us to stand up — to dance, to express our faith through song, to march against injustice, and to defend our country’s enduring promise of freedom and opportunity for all.”