didn’t really grow up with Rock and Roll Music as a child. It just wasn’t
a part of my musical education and I think a part of the reason was the
perception that Rock and Roll had nothing to offer. It didn’t in any way
reflect my experiences. I could never see myself reflected in the artists. I
gravitated inevitably to Rap, hip-hop, Reggae and R&B.
Serendipity led to my discovery of Chuck Berry and research led me to a
study of the true history of rock and roll. It’s the uncomfortable truth for a
lot of people about Rock and roll. It initially grew out of the black
experience as an offshoot of Blues and Jazz. Men like Chuck Berry were integral
to the development of the nascent musical form. In time, their work would be
co-opted and they would be near-forgotten, but the genre would never have
reached the heights it did without their contribution.
Chuck Berry was a guitarist, singer and songwriter. He was a pioneer of
early rock and roll and introduced and refined a lot of the more common
elements that set it apart from other forms, all the while garnering huge
success and a number of chart toppers. He would eventually be inducted into the
Hall of fame. His legacy is indelible and undeniable.
He’s still alive, and still rocking as hard as ever.
Greatest Quote (about him)
tried to give rock and roll another name, you might call it 'Chuck
Sengbe Pieh, later known as Joseph Cinque and I are members of the same
tribal group in Sierra Leone, with roots in the country going back generations.
All throughout my childhood, I read all the stories about him, his tales and
his exploits. His brave mutiny aboard the slave ship Amistad led to one of the few
legal victories in the fight against slavery and the dreaded slave trade.
He was born in Sierra Leone
during the height of the slave trade and was
captured illegally and sold to Spanish slavers. They were placed on board the
Amistad, on which they successfully led a mutiny. They eventually landed in the
US where the vessel was boarded by US naval officers.
The slaves on board (with Sengbe as their informal representative) were
tried for murder and mutiny, but were eventually acquitted by the US Supreme
court. The captured slaves were eventually returned to their hometowns. This
was a rare success during what were difficult times.
He is considered a hero in Sierra Leone and his likeness appears on one
of our bank notes.
She just recently passed away, and is probably one of the
more overlooked heroes on my list. However, in 1944, almost 20 years before
Rosa Parks, she refused to move to give up her seat on a bus to a white person,
forcing a change in the bus segregation laws of that time. Her co-counsel was
the indomitable Thurgood Marshall and they won by arguing that segregation was
a violation of the US Federal Commerce Clause. They were successful, but
Southern states refused to respect the ruling.
Though the changes she helped bring about were temporary,
her impact cannot be overlooked, especially as a role model for future
desegregation efforts. Her memory lives on in the myriad quiet revolutions that
are always taking place.
She was another in the long list of quiet heroes of that era
as seen below: