Mississippi Goddamn

Black History Month

Nina Simone

Black History Month – Mississippi Goddamn – The Power of Jazz

Nina Simone’s song “Mississippi Goddamn” was influenced by two major events in addition to the usual racism endured by African-Americans in the time this song was written. On June 12, 1963 Medgar Evers was murdered in front of his home by a member of the White Citizens’ Council and the KKK. Evers was a very prominent black leader in the civil rights movement and was a major influence in the desegregation of the University of Mississippi as well Mississippi’s first field secretary. Medgar also led boycotts of white merchants, brought the investigation of the murder of Emmett Till into the public’s eye who was brutally murdered for being accused of whistling at a white woman, and outwardly supported Clyde Kennard who sought out to be the first black student at the University of Mississippi before being framed for a crime he did not commit by the Mississippi State Sovereignty Commission and then was denied medical care for colon cancer in prison which led to his death.

The second event that led to Simone composing “Mississippi Goddamn” was the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama on September 16, 1963. This terrorist attack by members of the KKK killed four young black girls. Nina was so upset after these events she actually tried to build a gun out of spare parts around the house left from her ex-husband who was a police officer. But as Nina says “I knew nothing about killing, and I did know about music.” and so she sat down and wrote this song. Simone speaks in the song about that the idea of bringing about change slowly is something of the past and it is time to rise up and fight as any delay would just bring more of the same tragedy against black people in America. Amen.

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Alabama’s gotten me so upset
Tennessee made me lose my rest
And everybody knows about Mississippi Goddam

Alabama’s gotten me so upset
Tennessee made me lose my rest
And everybody knows about Mississippi Goddam

Can’t you see it
Can’t you feel it
It’s all in the air
I can’t stand the pressure much longer
Somebody say a prayer

Alabama’s gotten me so upset
Tennessee made me lose my rest
And everybody knows about Mississippi Goddam

This is a show tune
But the show hasn’t been written for it, yet

Hound dogs on my trail
School children sitting in jail
Black cat cross my path
I think every day’s gonna be my last

Lord have mercy on this land of mine
We all gonna get it in due time
I don’t belong here
I don’t belong there
I’ve even stopped believing in prayer

Don’t tell me
I tell you
Me and my people just about due
I’ve been there so I know
They keep on saying “Go slow!”

But that’s just the trouble
“do it slow”
Washing the windows
“do it slow”
Picking the cotton
“do it slow”
You’re just plain rotten
“do it slow”
You’re too damn lazy
“do it slow”
The thinking’s crazy
“do it slow”
Where am I going
What am I doing
I don’t know
I don’t know

Just try to do your very best
Stand up be counted with all the rest
For everybody knows about Mississippi Goddam

I made you thought I was kiddin’ didn’t we

Picket lines
School boycotts
They try to say it’s a communist plot
All I want is equality
for my sister my brother my people and me

Yes you lied to me all these years
You told me to wash and clean my ears
And talk real fine just like a lady
And you’d stop calling me Sister Sadie

Oh but this whole country is full of lies
You’re all gonna die and die like flies
I don’t trust you any more
You keep on saying “Go slow!”
“Go slow!”

But that’s just the trouble
“do it slow”
“do it slow”
Mass participation
“do it slow”
“do it slow”
Do things gradually
“do it slow”
But bring more tragedy
“do it slow”
Why don’t you see it
Why don’t you feel it
I don’t know
I don’t know

You don’t have to live next to me
Just give me my equality
Everybody knows about Mississippi
Everybody knows about Alabama
Everybody knows about Mississippi Goddam

More from Ms. Simone

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