In this interview, Nina Simone explains her commitment to engaging with young Black people about the beauty of their culture and heritage. She drops gems, but ultimately she explains why we are all responsible for the future generations.
I think what you're trying to ask is why am I so insistent on giving out to them that blackness, that black power, that black pushing them to identify with black culture. I think that's what you're asking. I have no choice over it in the first place. To me where are the most beautiful creatures in the whole world --black people. And I mean that in every sense. Outside and inside. To me I think we have a culture that is surpassed by no other civilization, but we don't know anything about it. So again I think I said this before in some other interview. My job is to somehow make them curious enough and to persuade them by hook or crook to get more aware of themselves and where they came from and what they are into and what is already there and to bring it out. This is what compels me to compel them, and I will do it by whatever means necessary. When I'm finished working. as tired as I am, and my work completely take all my energy, unfortunately but when there are kids who come back stage afterwards who want to talk--who are moved to the point sometimes they're moved to tears, "I want to know more about it" and they shake my hand--they kiss me and they want to talk about their problems. I find the time to do so whenever I can. I discourage breakfasts and speeches because I'm not--I don't make speeches but I will go out of my way to in spite of the fact that I'm too tired to do it--to talk to them to give the same message that I just finished doing on stage and perhaps to hear some of their grievances or just to make them feel like they're not alone because when you have a few Colored kids at a huge white college, anyway you cut it they are alienated and they feel it. So I feel a responsibility. They're so glad to see me because I represent something to them, and I can't give them enough. They need me. They need me, and when I'm needed I have to give. I curse myself afterwards for having no voice usually and being so exhausted that I can't do anything for myself, but they need me they need me for and the most important thing is they are our future. It's an investment as far as I'm concerned. When I invest time in young people from colleges, I know that I'm going to get that bread back. You know bread cast upon the water comes back. Because when I see them doing their thing one day, and I'm too old to do anything but sit and look at them, I'm going to say "well I was part of that." I never intend for my children to look at me and be ashamed and say well mama why didn't you do something. I will have done my duty.
Kimberly Foster is the founder and editor of For Harriet. Email or Follow @KimberlyNFoster