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."