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  • Writer's pictureTerry Pace

Nina Simone: Mississippi Goddamn

Updated: Apr 2, 2020

Mississippi Goddam (1964) by Nina Simone (RIP 1933-2003) a jazz musician of extraordinary courage and wit. Gifted with a powerful voice and an equally powerful mind, Simone was one of the great voices and leaders of the American Civil Rights Movement in the 1960's. One of her signature songs is "Mississippi Goddam." If these words are offensive, I believe that is her intent as she has no other way to honestly reflect the dehumanized experiences of Black folks in the United States through nearly 400 years of slavery, then 100 years of Jim Crow segregation and terror, the battle for civil rights, and now 50 more years of both racial ignorance and the sickness of white supremacy. This song is a must to hear from the perspective of Simone's experience and that of Black folks throughout America. She is honest in her music and without honesty we can only build upon the blowing sands. I fear this is what we have done as white people, as the truth is too harsh to fully believe of our ancestors and eve harder to see in ourselves. This is a song of honesty and resilience. As one listens openly to Nina, I believe you can feel some of her passion and humanity; then like the folk singer Tom Russell sings "I was so lost down there, out of love and walking alone, but walking beside me, was Nina Simone."

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