America isn’t the same tortured nation it was when Gil Scott-Heron suggested that “the revolution will not be televised.”
That’s not to say this country has solved every problem it had when Scott-Heron famously made that pronouncement in his 1970 poem.
It is to say that in part because of the consciousness-raising of Scott-Heron and other politically oriented artists, this nation was confronted with its racism, sexism, classism, militarism, and myriad addictions, and led into meaningful dialogues, if not solutions.
Scott-Heron died Friday at age 62, having lived a life as full of promise and misery as the land he rhythmically critiqued. He was among the pantheon of black spoken-word artists, including Amiri Baraka, the Last Poets, Nikki Giovanni, and Sonia Sanchez, who helped usher America from the civil rights movement to the black-power era.