Afros, Bell Bottoms, platform shoes, and black power was now the center of attention in the 70’s. We were taking the world by storm embracing who we are as a culture, ditching our perms we wore before this movement where we were forced to conform to society’s European beauty standards. We began to capture attention from white audiences with our funky music on Soul Train, and making the most rememberable music in which we still listen to today: Funk. The 70’s was truly a time to break free from those stereotypes we endured for hundreds of years and a time to say, “I’m Black and I’m Proud.” James Brown started a revolution with these words coming from this famous song written for not only him, but for the black community to become confident in who they are.
James Brown completely redefined what it meant to be black in America after so many years of oppression. During the late 60’s going into the 70’s, the Civil Rights Movement demanded a change for equality in the workforce and school for blacks. Being black and proud wasn’t something that was heard of up until 1968 when James Brown created this specific song. Brown wanted to not only create a song, but a message to black people saying that they didn’t have to be ashamed of being called “black,” because this word would simply create an uproar among the black community and was considered an insult. Coming out with this song was a challenge for the black community to learn and accept that they are in fact, black, and there should be no shame in the game! “Say It Loud, I’m Black and I’m Proud,” was a perfect song to peacefully protest, according to Brown since he did not like violent protests. It wasn’t meant to say that blacks were superior or better than everyone else, it was to send a message to authorities that our voices needed to be heard for once in a world where the violence against blacks were still continuing since the Justice System did not understand we needed to be treated like everyone else. Similar to the Black Lives Matter Movement, this song is meant to protest just what this movement means.
These were the famous words, Billboard magazine, bragged about James Brown and his voice for his own people with “Say It Loud, I’m Black and I’m Proud,” and his opinion on the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King. Brown was able to become a leader in this specific community and especially became memorable when he used call-and-responses while he performed live with 30 children from all parts of Los Angeles in poor areas using their voices that had never been heard before as a form of self-love.
Brown’s famous song embracing black power and black culture started a movement in daily life and in music which later became “Funk,” in the 1970’s. However, Brown didn’t just create this one song in the late 60’s, he was bound to be a star when his other hits such as: “Sex Machine,” and “I Know You Have Got Soul,” became the epitome of Funk music. Funk was a way of self-expression and expressing ourselves on famous stages and earning spots to perform on the ultimate stage, “Soul Train.” We were tired of being torn down and belittled by the system and by the white community, we decided to make a name for ourselves. Funk became our way of going all out with our afros, clothing, shoes, and much more! It is true that once you hear Funk music, you feel connected to your roots and want to keep the dancing going. Brown’s decision to write his song about black power and being proud to be black was something that opened different doors for all of us and becoming more and more comfortable with the skin that we are in giving voices to black children, women, and men who did not have one. Soon after, there was no problem with saying, “I’m Black and I’m Proud.”