Martin Luther King was once a professor, and where the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee SNCC was founded—Simone speaks of the power of photography to captivate, and the inspiration behind the song.
Nina Simone, who died in , leaves behind an extraordinary and unparalleled musical legacy, the likes of which may not be seen for some time. I had her albums. My parents were not happy that I was a fan. Appreciate your article about Ms. Simone; however, SNCC was founded at Shaw University, Raleigh NC in April under the guidance of Ella Baker, who was instrumental in organizing the event bringing together youth activists who had been involved in sit-ins and other civil rights struggles.
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Pride in being black and beautiful was expressed in big afros and raised fists. She aimed to capture that moment of joy in black identity — and though the song she wrote was addressed to children, it became an anthem for adults, too. Hansberry was the first black woman to have a play performed on Broadway; she and Simone bonded over civil rights and radical politics. And then, in January , Hansberry died of cancer at the age of A few months before, she had told a group of student essay winners, "I wanted to be able to come here and speak with you on this occasion because you are young, gifted and black.
Those words stuck in Nina Simone's head. In an interview recorded at historically black Morehouse College in Atlanta, she said, "I remember getting a feeling in my body, and I said, 'That's it: to be young, gifted and black. That's all. It just flowed out of me. Simone wrote the music, while the words came from her bandleader, Weldon Irvine.
He reportedly sat writing the lyrics in his car, tying up a busy New York City intersection for 15 minutes as he scribbled on napkins and a matchbook cover.
Simone had told him to keep it simple — write something that "will make black children all over the world feel good about themselves, forever.
To be young, gifted and black Oh, what a lovely precious dream To be young, gifted and black Open your heart to what I mean In the whole world you know There are a million boys and girls Who are young, gifted and black And that's a fact!
Soul singer Donny Hathaway released a cover of the song in Aretha Franklin made own version the title track of an album she released in She says when she was growing up, there really was a need for the song. She says she first heard the song while attending middle school in a suburb of Washington, D. Her teacher, a white woman, played it for a class of mostly black students.