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Nina Simone’s name has become synonymous with classic American jazz, but it would be the explosive political undertones in her later music that would establish her as a cultural icon. Within much of the music she created, Ms. Simone showed great affection for the struggles being fought by her brothers and sisters in the quest for civil rights, as well as understandable disdain for the cruel hegemony of the White establishment. Songs like “Mississippi Goddam” and “Old Jim Crow” became staples in her Civil Rights-era repertoire, which she would produce throughout the 1960s and ’70s. She advocated for the violent opposition of the racist authority of the American government, which makes it highly uncanny that her thirty-second birthday landed on the same day as Malcolm X’s assassination, February 21, 1965. Forty-six years after his death, and eight years after hers, we salute two great American heroes.

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