by John Malveaux
January 11, 2018, I attended the 2018 NAACP Entertainment Symposium titled People, Power & Progress at Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles as a guest of Long Beach branch president Naomi Rainey. NAACP chairman Leon Russell spoke about the power of image in media. I reflected on the pervasive absence of image by classical composers of African descent during the annual NAACP IMAGE Awards. I suspect the omission is with or without intent connected to the idea that “whites are intellectually superior”. Classical music is called “academic music” and “high art” associated with superior societies and achievements of mankind. Awareness of the rich history & current achievement by people of African descent in classical music is so neglected in home education, educational curriculum, popular media, awards shows, and radio programming that even most African Americans do not have an expectation of an image in classical music. A significant percentage of African Americans, corporate media sponsors, and the NAACP IMAGE Awards are satisfied with the more acceptable mass media images of African American achievements in popular music (jazz, hip hop, gospel, blues, pop, etc.)
The NAACP IMAGE Awards does not offer a category to recognize classical music composers. Children and others are robbed of images that show the full range of their human potential in media. The history of achievements by people of African descent in classical music is traceable back to Chevalier de Saint George (1744-1799) to the current soundtrack composer of the movie GET OUT by classical composer Michael Abels.
Michael Abels is the 2017 MusicUNTOLD Composer of the Year. A special recognition/honoring is scheduled for 2:00 PM, February 18, 2018 at City of Long Beach Michelle Obama Library. Long Beach Vice-Mayor Rex Richardson and MusicUNTOLD president John Malveaux will interview composer Michael Abels. The program will include film clips from GET OUT and audience Q&A.