On May 27, 2011, I learned that we lost Gil. Unfortunately, there’s quite a few people, Black folks in particular, who are unfamiliar with Gil Scott Heron so this piece of major news went by with a shrug of nonchalant shoulders with them. I won’t spend a lot of time rehashing his biography, just spend some time googling his name and learn of his artistic brilliance. Instead, it’s only befitting of me to provide something that will give you a taste of his poetic goodness and philosophy.
But, before I do, let me just take the time to point out that Gil Scott Heron, along with Amiri Baraka, Larry Neal, and the Last Poets are the central cultivators of Black Protest art. So, while O’Really? (that’s what I call Bill O’Reilly) was making such a big damn deal about Common going to the White House, Gil Scott Heron would have went to the poetry night and unabashedly spoke his truth. While eating the First Lady’s delectable spread, he probably would have offered some criticism of Obama’s policies as well as some candid advice before leaving and going home to bed. Well, that’s where my imagination takes me anyway.
The cloudcast below is taken from an album that I have in my personal collection. As Gil discusses how little we have learned of our own history before breaking into one of his pieces, it’s obvious that we now have to commit ourselves to making sure history never forgets Gil.
Rest Well, Mr. Heron and thank you.