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  • Michelle Smith

Amazing Melanated Mommies: 10

Updated: Apr 18, 2019

While African American history is too extraordinary to be summed up in a year, let alone a month, we will be celebrating phenomenal women who changed the world as we see it now all while raising children. If they can do it, so can we. Lets do it!!!

Nina Simone was an American singer, songwriter, pianist, arranger, and activist in the civil rights movement. Her music spanned a broad range of musical styles including classical, jazz, blues, folk, R&B, gospel, and pop. Simone recorded more than 40 albums between 1958 and 1974, making her debut with the album Little Girl Blue. On her debut album for Dutch Philips Records, Nina Simone in Concert (1964), for the first time she addressed racial inequality in the United States in the song "Mississippi Goddam". This was her response to the June 12, 1963 murder of Medgar Evers and the September 15, 1963 bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama that killed four young black girls and partially blinded a fifth. Around this time Nina married a New York City Detective, Andrew Stroud who was reportedly psychologically and mentally abusive to Nina. Together they had a beautiful daughter. Simone performed and spoke at civil rights meetings such as at the Selma to Montgomery marches. Like Malcolm X, her neighbor in Mount Vernon, New York, she supported black nationalism and advocated violent revolution rather than Martin Luther King's non-violent approach. Over time Simone became known for her temper and frequent outbursts. In 1985 fired a gun at a record company executive, whom she accused of stealing royalties. Simone said she "tried to kill him" but "missed".Simone was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in the late 1980s. Nina Simone's social commentary was not limited to the Civil Rights Movement; "Four Women" exposed the eurocentric beauty standards imposed on black women in America, as it explored the internalized dilemma of beauty that is experienced between four black women with skin-tones ranging from light to dark. She explains in her autobiography I Put a Spell on You that the purpose of the song was to inspire black women to define beauty and identity for themselves without the influence of societal impositions. Salute Ms Nina Simone!

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