How June Became National Black Music Month

“One thing about music is when it hits you, you feel no pain.” – Bob Marley

When it comes to the legacy and contributions of African-American musicians, songwriters, and singers it’s no contesting how it has enriched America’s history and diversity.

Every culture includes music and the arts as one of the foundation pillars of cultural expression.  In 1979 President Jimmy Carter decreed an Executive Order to make June National Black Music Month.

Unfortunately, when President Carter had assigned June as Black Music Month, he had not signed a special presidential proclamation that made it official. Dyana Williams, a renowned journalist, TV producer, and co-founder of Black Music Month attempted to hold a Black Music Month event at the White House in 1998 during President Bill Clinton’s term. But she was soon informed that an event wouldn’t be possible due to not having an official presidential proclamation. Williams didn’t give up and instead switch course by lobbying for legislation with the help of Congressman Chaka Fattah and, with their alliance two years later, June was officially declared Black Music Month.

The Godmother of Black Music Month, Dyana Williams

In 2009, the commemoration was given its current name by President Barack Obama. In his 2016 proclamation, Obama noted that African-American music and musicians have helped the country “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.”

The African-American music tradition reflects creativity, movement, and individualism like no other music genre. Blues, jazz, soul, Hip-Hop, and rock and roll combine various musical traditions to develop new sounds and trends that we see from Broadway to social network mobile apps. If your looking for some Black musicians from Arkansas here are a few to help with your own research.

List of Black Musicians from Arkansas:

Al Green


Johnnie Taylor

Little Willie John

Anita Pointer of the Pointer Sisters

  William Grant Still

William Warfield

Florence Price

Barbara Hendricks

Albert King

Robert Junior Lockwood

Luther Allison

Sonny Boy Williamson

Howlin’ Wolf

Scott Joplin

Sister Rosetta Tharpe

Louis Jordan and many more!