SFJAZZ.org | Denise Young Smith Black History Month

On The Corner Masthead

SFJAZZ Board Chair Denise Young Smith
On Black History Month

February 18, 2021 | by SFJAZZ

A message from SFJAZZ Board of Trustees Chair, Denise Young Smith on Black History Month, and the importance of celebrating Black history every single day of the year.

To learn more about SFJAZZ's upcoming 'Jazz & Race' Online Panel Discussion on Sunday, February 28th at 11AM-1PM PT, hosted by educator and author Claude Steele. Panelists include Terri Lyne Carrington, Nate Chinen, Angela Davis, and Rhiannon Giddens. This is a free event, however you do need to register to watch. To learn more, visit: https://www.sfjazz.org/jazzandrace

BHM Panel

Race, Equity, Action and Change Statement

SFJAZZ has presented, produced, and provided music and educational programs centered around jazz for over 37 years. We acknowledge that as an organization, we have fallen short of our goal to be a leading figure in supporting Black, Indigenous, and people of color. As presenters of an art form rooted in the Black American experience, SFJAZZ has a unique responsibility and acknowledges that systemic racism and bias has impacted Black, Indigenous, and people of color throughout our region, the larger jazz ecosystem, and within our own organization.

SFJAZZ is committed to the difficult work to transform our culture and processes. As an early step, we have convened a Racial Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion committee to engage stakeholders across the SFJAZZ community and identify historical and current manifestations of anti-Blackness and its relationship to other forms of oppression and white supremacy, and to identify paths to racial healing, while developing skills for effective cross-racial dialogue and trust-building. While we do not yet have all the answers as to how to reach these ambitious goals, we seek to center the voices of people of color in our work and decision-making to reimagine systems currently in place, and ensure accountability, while also providing space for healing and forgiveness.

SFJAZZ strives to honor the experiences of the artists that created and continue to move jazz and related music forward, which are entwined with the experiences of descendants of enslaved people. This difficult history is embedded in the souls of the artists and music we present, and we endeavor to address the lasting consequences of this history in systemic racism, gender representation, inequality, and access. SFJAZZ is committed to the voices, past, present, and future, that chronicle our painful history, the struggle for equality, and offer ways to enlighten and connect to a common humanity. This process of transformation requires a long-term commitment. As we continue to evolve, we will continually assess and acknowledge both our progress and our setbacks.