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Celebrating African American Music Month

Published by Kassi Soulard on

This is a special post written by Charles Warren, Curriculum Developer at Triangle. Charlie is also a member of Triangle’s Racial Equity Task Force. As part of our commitment to the work of our Racial Equity Task Force, we will be sharing more information with you on subjects related to racial equity and disability justice. This post continues our series dedicated to calling attention to the contributions of people with disabilities to American history.

Did you know that June is African American Music Month? This week, we are highlighting African American musicians who are focused on increasing awareness and empowerment for African Americans with disabilities.

Paul Pena – American Singer, Songwriter, and Guitarist of Cape Verdean Descent

The image is the cover of Paul Pena’s self-titled album.  It is a graphite drawing of a African American man with an afro and a neat mustache against a blue background. His name is written in big blue capital letters at the top.

Paul Pena (1950 – 2005) was a supremely talented and enigmatic musician whose work touched on a variety of genres, including Delta Blues, Jazz, Morna, Flamenco, Folk, Rock & Roll, and Tuvan throat singing. He opened for Frank Zappa, The Grateful Dead, and provided bass guitar and backup vocals on Bonnie Raitt’s self-titled debut album in 1971.  He wrote the classic rock staple, “Jet Airline,” which became a hit in 1977 by the Steve Miller Band.  He became an expert in Tuvan throat singing by using a Tuvan-to-Russian and Russian-to-English dictionary, a musical journey made famous in the documentary Genghis Blues.  He was born in Hyannis, Massachusetts and attended the Perkins School for the Blind.

Leroy F. Moore Jr. – Writer, Poet, Community Activist

A black and white photograph of Leroy F. Moore Jr., an African American man with a short silver flecked goatee, performing spoken-word poetry. Mr. Moore speaks into a microphone with a music stand in front of him. He is wearing a flat cap, a long sleeve tee, and a cross body bag with a leather strap.

Leroy F. Moore Jr. is a writer, poet, community activist, and feminist who has cerebral palsy. He is the founder of Krip-Hop Nation, co-founder of Sins Invalid, a member of the National Black Disability Coalition, and a journalist at Poor Magazine. Along with Rob DA’ Noise Temple and Keith Jones, Moore started Krip Hop, a movement that focuses on hip-hop as a means of expression, education, activism, and advocacy for people with disabilities. The movement increases awareness in the media world of the talents, history, and rights of people with disabilities. Moore’s art and activism centers on the Black disability experience, and takes the form of music, film, spoken-word poetry, and books. He has a global reputation as a leader in the arts and disability community.

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