To Be Young, Gifted and Black

This week, I fell into a Donny Hathaway hole. This was surely not the first time. In fact, this happens at least once a year. And usually, it takes me a while to climb back out. This time, I stopped at his cover of “To Be Young, Gifted and Black,” a song originally written by Nina Simone and inspired by a play of the same name about Lorraine Hansberry’s life.

To be young, gifted and black,
Oh what a lovely precious dream.
To be young, gifted and black,
Open your heart to what I mean.
In the whole world you know
There are billion boys and girls
Who are young, gifted and black,
And that’s a fact!
Young, gifted and black
We must begin to tell our young
There’s a world waiting for you
This is a quest that’s just begun.
When you feel really low
Yeah, there’s a great truth you should know
When you’re young, gifted and black
Your soul’s intact.
Young, gifted and black
How I long to know the truth.
There are times when I look back
And I am haunted by my youth.
Oh, but my joy of today
Is that we can all be proud to say
To be young, gifted and black
Is where it’s at.

Here is a video of Nina Simone explaining her inspiration for the song she wrote in tribute to her friend Lorraine Hansberry. The video also includes a live performance. I’ve also included a playlist that includes Nina Simone’s recording and two covers by Aretha Franklin and Donny Hathaway.




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