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A letter on racial justice from a member of the American music community


Dear Senator/Representative

I am writing to you today as a proud member of the United States music community, the industry that led the way by example toward racial integration in America. From the days that New Orleans served as the world’s melting pot of music and culture, to Paul Robeson starring in Jerome Kern’s “Showboat” on Broadway, to the integration of Carnegie Hall by The Basie and Goodman Bands featuring Lionel Hampton (later a key mentor for Jackie Robinson), to Marian Anderson at the Roosevelt White House, and to Dr. King at the Lincoln Memorial with Mahalia Jackson and Bob Dylan, we have been blessed to help blaze the trail of equality together as one community of American music creators of every race, religion and background.

Today is a national day of rededication for our industry toward racial justice. I am respectfully petitioning you to assist us in ensuring that immediate steps be taken by Congress to enact legislation that will force local municipalities to put a stop to the use of excessive force and unequal treatment by police against African-Americans (or any other persons), under severe penalty of federal law. We ask you to take all further and necessary steps to ensure the promise set forth in the Fourteenth Amendment of equal treatment under the law for every person in every state in the Nation. And we ask you specifically to ensure that the police officers whose actions resulted in the death of Minnesota citizen George Floyd, or of other African-American citizens in additional cases involving excessive force and murder/manslaughter currently pending across the Nation, be brought to justice and tried fairly for the crimes they may have committed.

Thank you for your immediate action on these crucial issues of American justice for all of us.



Charles J. Sanders
ExCo Member, Music Creators North America
Legal Counsel, Songwriters Guild of America

(Photo: Lionel Hampton by William P. Gottlieb, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

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