Let’s start here…I assume you’ve seen Back To The Future, right?
Chuck Berry – whose iconic “Johnny B. Goode” licks are mimed here by Michael J. Fox – was a Rock & Roll pioneer. He practically invented the electric guitar solo.
Just try to imagine Brad Paisley or Keith Urban without the electric guitar solo…c’mon…try.
Berry was 90. And get this: he was still married to his FIRST wife at the time of his death. He married Themetta “Toddy” Suggs on October 28, 1948.
His contributions to Rock, Rhythm & Blues and Country will never be surpassed. At least not in any of our lifetimes.
And the racial and cultural barriers he broke down while breaking musical barriers, while monumental…sadly, weren’t enough.
Case in point…
As the news of Chuck Berry’s passing was blowing up my FB feed, another post appeared. This one from a gentleman we’ve known for over 20 years. Highly respected in our church, he recently retired from a key position with a local entity. An entity you’d know if I mentioned it.
“Being followed around in a store normally doesn’t bother me because it’s the price we pay being black in America.”
Turned out, my friend and his wife, without provocation, were being followed around by a white clerk in an unnamed but local retail establishment…treated with suspicion, simply for being people of color.
And reading the comments, I find out they’re far from alone. I saw accounts of friends of color being followed while driving, or in a store, or simply treated with suspicion, all multiple times.
Even when the people facing such subtle yet insidious bigotry are in their 50s and well-dressed.
Now imagine what Chuck Berry faced when he was in his prime, rewriting history. His 1959 arrest for allegedly violating the Mann Act is but one example.
In remembering Berry’s accomplishments, we cannot think for even a minute that the work of racial and cultural reconciliation – which Chuck Berry surely helped – is finished. In fact, I think we need to be even more intentional. I pray for the day when no one will ever have reason to post, as my friend did tonight…
“As POC (a person of color) in this country, it feels as if we’re constantly under assault no matter what we achieve.”
Billboard report HERE.
CBS News, HERE.
Rolling Stone, HERE.
20 essential Chuck Berry songs, HERE. Guess which iconic hit took its riff from a Bob Wills song? Click and see.
More about the Mann Act, HERE.
Martina McBride offers a few pertinent thoughts…as only Martina can.