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A letter to the late great Gil Scott Heron

June 4, 2011

from Minister of Information JR

Gil Scott Heron performs at the Regency Ballroom on Oct. 2, 2009. – Photo: Minister of Information JR
Ever since I became aware of your music and revolutionary message, your work has moved me. I have always admired the profound emotional precision that you sang with. Your music has the power to move beyond time and space within a few notes. Spiritually, you had the gift to make us experience what you were experiencing. It was like you could put the movie you were singing about on the projectors of our minds.

So many, including myself, wished they could’ve helped you out of your turmoil, but we didn’t know what to do; much like people living around the tortured souls of Black geniuses of the past like Marvin Gaye, Richard Pryor, Huey Newton, Billie Holiday, John Coltrane, Charlie Parker, Tupac and the list goes on …

Growing mentally to your music made me feel like I knew you. It has to be a weird feeling for millions to “know” you, but you are still lonely because they know your work, not you.

You stood up fearlessly against the U.S. government’s Ministry of Fear and taught us how to be warriors without losing our humanity. You talked about loving your people as well as fighting the power. Your career is proof of how the pen can be a mighty weapon.

You were THE ghetto’s poet, with your hypnotic revolutionary slogans that picked us up, dusted us off, and got us ready to fight. You walked the path of a revolutionary cultural worker to be crucified for your battle with government imported drugs, only to be immortalized by the people’s love for what you gave us.

Gil Scott Heron and JR got well acquainted after the 2009 Regency Ballroom concert and have been in touch several times since then. – Photo: Siraj Fowler
Most of the ones who criticize you, just like they did Huey P. Newton, can tell us nothing about how to pick up a whole race of people who have been enslaved for hundreds of years in an enemy white supremacist culture. Look how they did Paul Robeson, Jimi Hendrix, Bob Marley, Pac.

We know that COINTELPRO hunted you, and the band played on. You always kept it noble and continued to use your pen to strike at the world’s contradictions like in “Whitey’s on the Moon,” “Winter in America,” “We Almost Lost Detroit,” as well as our personal contradictions, like in “The Bottle” or in “Home is Where the Hatred Is.”

Your/our enemies want to concentrate on your vices, when it is impossible for anybody but the Creator to judge a man who has contributed as much as you have, when it’s all said and done.

Email POCC Minister of Information JR, Bay View associate editor, at blockreportradio@gmail.com and visit www.blockreportradio.com.


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