REAL TALK From AJ Woodson

A Look At Stevie Wonders 1976 Song “Black Man:” A Desire For Interracial Harmony, And A Criticism Of Racism

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As we enter the silly season of politics and primaries we hear a lot about Critical Race Theory that has led to a ban on books that discuss race, gender, and sexuality, although most critics don’t know its actual meaning. In the past year, as it has become previously, it is currently the phrase that pays, becoming a staple in mainstream right-wing political conversations throughout the country — critical race theory (or CRT). You see White Men, Republicans who fear the Browning of America and will do and say anything to hold on to the perceived power that they feel entitled to, that they feel belongs solely to them.

For that very reason, as we come to the end of Black History Month, I felt it is time to remind some and teach others the true history of this country. To do that I share with all of you a powerful video of the song, “Black Man” For those who do not know it or forgot about it, it’s a track off Stevie Wonder’s prolific Grammy Award-winning 1976 album Songs in the Key of Life – Stevie’s eighteenth studio album! The song was written by Wonder and Gary Byrd. The video was edited by Tom Mason with images of the individuals named in the song all the way up to the many Black Lives lost at the hands of law enforcement.

The song was written about Wonder’s desire for worldwide interracial harmony, and criticism of racism, as evidenced in earlier works such as Living for the City. The lyrics referred prominently to Crispus Attucks, widely considered the first martyr of the American Revolution. Wonder deliberately chose this theme as the United States Bicentennial was underway at the time of recording.

The song uses color-based terminology; (i.e. black, red, yellow, white, brown) to describe different racial groups and although this language has become less acceptable culturally, these terms are mentioned below, as in the original form of the song, along with the activity for which the song holds each historical figure to be famous.

First man to die, For the flag we now hold high, Was a Black man
The ground where we stand, With a flag held in our hand, Was first the red man’s
Guide of a ship, On the first Columbus trip, Was a brown man
The railroads for trains, Came on tracking that was laid, By the yellow man

If we are to ever achieve Stevie Wonder’s desire for worldwide interracial harmony, as described in the song or the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., spoke of in what is being called the I Have A Dream speech that Republican want to quote now to defend the banning of books (including books about MLK) as they attempt to whitewash history, we must first have these honest and difficult conversations. They know and want our youth and future generations to not be taught how literacy became a Powerful Weapon in the Fight to End Slavery. And to my Jewish brothers and sisters, it’s not just a Black thing, they do not want to just ban books on slavery, they want to ban all books on the holocaust as well.

As Stevie Wonder sang

We pledge allegiance, All our lives
To the magic colors, Red, blue, and white
But we all must be given, The liberty that we defend
For with justice not for all men, History will repeat again
It’s time we learned, This world was made for all men
Hear me out, Oh

For with justice not for all men, History will repeat again, it’s time to learn, this world was made for all men! That’s why there was a time they wouldn’t let us read. The old slaves were killed for reading. The new slaves won’t read if it killed them. WAKE UP, BROTHERS AND SISTERS. The Republicans want to take us back to those days or at least where they control what we can and cannot read. Some of them are just shouting the rhetoric as a talking point to win back control of Congress, but do not be fooled there are many who desperately want to take us back to those days.

“Racial understanding, racial sympathy, is the key to permanent WORLD PEACE.” – J.A. Rogers, Sex & Race Vol. 1 (1952)

I share this powerful video today because it’s time for some REAL TALK. With all the noise on the news, Black Westchester wants to remind us and educate others because as Stevie sang, It’s time we learned, This world was made for all men

Who was the first man to set foot on the North Pole?
Matthew Henson, a Black man
Who was the first American to show the Pilgrims at Plymouth the secrets of survival in the new world?
Squanto, a red man
Who was the soldier of Company G who won high honors for his courage and heroism in World War I?
Sing Kee, a yellow man
Who is the leader of United Farm Workers and helped farm workers maintain dignity and respect?
César Chávez, a brown man
Who was the father of blood plasma and the director of the Red Cross blood bank?
Dr. Charles Drew, a Black man
Who was the great American heroine who aided the Lewis and Clark expedition?
Sacagawea, a red woman
Who was the famous educator and semanticist who made outstanding contributions to education in America?
Hayakawa, a yellow man
Who invented the world’s first stop light and the gas mask?
Garrett Morgan, a black man
Who was the American surgeon who was one of the founders of neurosurgery?
Harvey Williams Cushing, a white man
Who was the man who helped design the nation’s capitol, made the first clock to give time in America, and wrote the first almanac?
Benjamin Banneker, a Black man
Who was the legendary hero who helped establish the League of Iroquois?
Hiawatha, a red man
Who is the leader of the first microbiotic center in America?
Micho Kushi, a yellow man
Who was the founder of the city of Chicago in 1772?
Jean Baptiste, a Black man
Who was one of the organizers of the American Indian Movement?
Denis Banks, a red man
Who was the Jewish financier who raised funds to sponsor Christopher Columbus’ voyage to America?
Lewis D. Santangel, a white man
Who was the woman who led countless slaves to freedom on the Underground Railroad?
Harriet Tubman, a Black woman

As always I invite you to leave your feedback in the comment section below, please share this with others, with your family and friends. Share it on your social media. For with justice not for all men, History will repeat again, it’s time to learn, this world was made for all men and women!

AJ Woodson

AJ Woodson is the Editor-In-Chief of Black Westchester and Co-Owner of Urban Soul Media Group, the parent company, Host & Producer of the People Before Politics Radio Show. AJ is a Father, Brother, An Author, Journalism Fellow (Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism), Hip-Hop Artist - one third of the legendary underground rap group JVC FORCE known for the single Strong Island, Radio Personality, Hip-Hop Historian, Documentarian, Activist, Criminal Justice Advocate and Freelance Journalist whose byline has appeared in several print publications and online sites including The Source, Vibe, the Village Voice, Upscale,,, Rolling Out Newspaper, Daily Challenge Newspaper, Spiritual Minded Magazine, Word Up! Magazine, On The Go Magazine and several others.

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1 comment

Stephanie S.Swann February 26, 2022 at 1:26 PM

CRT in my opinion should be a requirement in order to pass to the next grade level and graduate from high school. With the current Systemic Racism curriculum in place; we have all been Mis-Educated!! It has been done intentionally!!


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