In celebration of Black History Month I’m paying tribute to 28 contemporary history makers. These people have inspired me throughout my life, as well as today, and are making a positive impact on our world.
For me and millions of others, Prince, James Baldwin, Maya Angelou, Denzel Washington, Stevie Wonder, Diahann Carroll, Rick James, Alex Haley, Bob Marley, Ronna Waller & Joy-Ann Reid, Cicely Tyson, Eddie & Charlie Murphy, Dave Chappelle, Richard Pryor, Chris Rock, Serena Williams, Oprah Winfrey, Tina Turner, Ta-Nehisi Paul Coates & Kendrick Lamar, Curtis Mayfield, Spike Lee, Muhammad Ali, Queen Latifah, Maxine Waters, Shirley Chisolm, Frankie Crocker, Ruby Dee, The Jacksons, MJ & Janet have made indelible impressions on all kinds of people.
Prince Rogers Nelson, Stevland Hardaway Judkins, James Ambrose Johnson, Jr., Nesta Robert Marley, Anna Mae Bullock/ Tina Turner, Mayfield, Dana Elaine Owens/ Queen Latifah, Frances Crocker and The Jackson family are the music makers. When I made the choice to be happy in life and career, I sought out how to earn a living, working in music. The majority of my time and income, apart from addressing obligations, would be spent on music. I was always buying new albums or concert tickets, and being an incredible dancer, I frequented night clubs & dance halls. It makes all the sense that my life would be inspired and directed by the creations of these people.
The presence, activism and words of Ali, Angelou, Baldwin, Coates, Chisolm, Haley, Lamar, Reid, Waters, Williams, and Winfrey are extremely profound. Although Waters, Coates and Lamar are the only three of the aforementioned still with us, the endeavors of the rest, are very prevalent in our society. Although Lamar is a “rapper,” his social commentary is shaping and informing young minds, of all ethnicities. Comedians Pryor, Chapelle, Rock and the Murphy brothers are so much more than funny men. Their truth telling about themselves and society, through tickling our funny bones, have been a compass of consciousness for me.
“Auntie” Ruby Dee, Lee, Washington, Carroll, Tyson have all been like family. As their achievements in acting, have unquestionably had an extreme effect on me, and people around the globe. The power of images is something that only now, is being more discussed in the mainstream, as to how influential they are. Even with increased dialogue about it, the majority of society, is still oblivious to how much they’re affected. Dee & Carroll, were two women that looked like my mother, Ronna who was an educator. Carroll portrayed the nurse “Julia” and Dee was Travis’ mom in the Lorraine Hansberry classic “A Raisin in the Sun.” Tyson has had a presence in media longer than I’ve been alive. Her earliest work that had the greatest initial impact on me, were the movies “Sounder,” and “The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman.”
The combined works of Lee and Washington, as well as their collaborations, have depicted aspects of the best and worst of the black male experience. I’ve been on board the Lee train of filmmaking since “She’s Gotta Have It,” and an admirer of Washington since he starred in “Carbon Copy.” I’ve interviewed them both, and was honored for them to autograph copies, of my DVDs of films they did together.
These are just a handful of people that have shaped my way of thinking and inspire me daily. In recognition of Black History being made everyday. For corresponding photo album, log on to Facebook… https://www.facebook.com/curtis.waller.79/media_set?set=a.10156220658689612.1073741839.718934611&type=3