Newport Folk/Jazz Festival Founder on Racial Inequality in the U.S.: 'None of Us Should Rest Until Black Lives Matter'

George Wein
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George Wein & The Newport All-Stars with Anat Cohen, Howard Alden, Randy Brecker, Lew Tabackin, Jay Leonhart, and Clarence Penn perform during the 2014 Newport Jazz Festival at Fort Adams State Park on Aug. 3, 2014 in Newport, Rhode Island.

George Wein, the iconic founder of the Newport Folk Festival and Newport Jazz Festival, has shared a poignant, thoughtful message about the history of racial inequality in America and the importance of standing up to injustice. The note, posted by jazz bassist Christian McBride, opens with Wein reflecting on the divisions he's seen in the course of his long, storied life.

"As I approach the ripe old age of 95, I think it is fair to say that 'I've seen it all,'" Wein wrote. "I've witnessed and experienced, first-hand, the evils of discrimination, hatred and bigotry." Wein, also one of the key figures behind the founding of the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, said he vividly recalled the violence and unrest caused by the desegregation of the public schools in his hometown of Boston, as well as traveling in the Jim Crow South, where he could not bring his African-American wife to discuss staring the New Orleans fest "because interracial marriage was still against the law in that city."

He shared, "it pains me to say that despite the undeniable progress in race relations, brought about by the sheer force and determination of the Civil Rights Movement... 'justice for all' is not a reality for Black Americans." After producing the Newport festivals for more than six decades, Wein said he's seen the power of music to bring artists and audiences together, regardless of race, because "the only thing that mattered was the music. That is still the case today."

Wein ended the note by saying that the murder of George Floyd at the hands of a since fired white police officer, as well as other "despicable incidents" of racially motivated violence "sickens me to my core. It shows America at its very worst. The Newport Festivals show America at its best. None of us show rest until Black Lives Matter. All of us should be fully engaged until there is truly justice for all."

Check out Wein's full statement below.

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