1. Who Started It?
In the late 1978, Kenny Gamble (founder of Philadelphia International Records) and Ed Wright (the head of NATRA: The National Association of TV and Radio Announcers) founded the Black Music Association. With the help of Dyana Williams (known as the Mother of Black Music Month) the three created Black Music Month and commemorated the inaugural event at the White House Lawn on June 7, 1979.
Initially, Black Music Month started as an economic program...we picked June as the time we could concentrate on recognizing and celebrating the economic and cultural power of black music as well as those who made and promoted it. -Kenny Gamble
2. How Did it Happen?
At the white house event, President Jimmy Carter made a Presidential decree declaring June Black Music Month but never officially signed a Presidential proclamation.
In 2000, Dyana Williams (radio personality and celebrity media coach) and Philadelphia Congressman Chaka Fattah worked with the United States Congress to pass legislation, House Resolution 509- The African American Music Bill, signed by President Bill Clinton.
For black people, music is like breathing. It’s part of our experience, from field hollers to the hip-hop of today and every genre in between, because we have influenced everybody from The Rolling Stones to The Beatles to Eric Clapton, who cite black music as their wellspring. We are talking about America's indigenous music that just happens to be black. -Dyana Williams
4. Name Change
In 2009, Forever President Barack Obama changed the name to African American Music Appreciation Month.
5. Make it Legal
In 2016, President Obama signed a Presidential Proclamation officially and legally declaring June African American Music Month:
A vital part of out Nation’s proud heritage, African American music exemplifies the creative spirit at the heart of American identity and is among the most innovative and powerful art the world has ever known. -President Barack Obama
As we enter Black Music Month, it's important to know who fought for this to be recognized at a national level. That being said, all month long, we are unapologetically celebrating, creating and consuming black music!