“There is nothing new about poverty. What is new, however, is that we now have the resources to get rid of it.”-Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
During Stevie Wonder’s “Hotter Than July” tour in 1980, Gil Scott-Heron joined Stevie in his campaign to bring about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day as a Federal holiday to remember and honor Dr. King. Before Heron died in 2011, he wrote about this experience in his memoir, The Last Holiday: A Memoir, “In 1980, Stevie joined with the members of the Black Caucus in the US congress to speak out for the need to honour the day King was born, to make his birthday a national holiday. The campaign began in earnest on Halloween of 1980 in Houston, Texas, with Stevie’s national tour supporting a new LP called Hotter than July, featuring the song Happy Birthday, which advocated a holiday for King. I arrived in Houston in the early afternoon to join the tour as the opening act. By 15 January 1981, King’s birthday, I had been working on the Hotter than July tour for 10 weeks.”
Gil Scott-Heron was a masterful lyricist…the Father of today’s rappers, whether they know it or not. It’s sad that his addictions prevented him from staying around and contributing his words and music to what is happening today. “Winter in America” comes in many forms: all inequalities, poverty, educational divides, global climate changes, technology inequality, food deserts, unemployment, minimum wage, hate, racism, prejudice…I hope that school children in the U.S. who are off from school today have parents that will talk about why schools are closed today; why we should remember Dr. King and the way or ways each individual can do something beneficial for others.