As a novelty sock company, our outlet for honoring American heroes is putting them on socks, but for Black History Month just sharing our collection with you didn't feel like it gave them the attention they deserve.
There’s not enough room on a sock to tribute Maya Angelou’s work properly. There is definitely not enough room on a sock to speak on the inequality our fellow humans experience today. So we did some homework. We gathered lesser known interviews and quotes from the men and women featured on our Black History Month socks. Some of them are deep on an artistic level, like Jimi Hendrix’s last interview, others ask you to look hard into the soul of America. It is only the right way to celebrate Black History Month, or as we like to call it, American history.
Dr. Maya Angelou
“Still, I Rise” is Dr. Angelou’s most well-known poem, for good reason. It is a source of power to women who are used to setting themselves aside for others.
“You may shoot me with your words/you may cut me with your eyes/you may kill me with your hatefulness/but still, like air, I'll rise.”
For those of us who come from difficult backgrounds like Dr. Angelou, she has this to say on traumatic experiences:
“You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.”
If you haven’t had the pleasure of hearing Dr. Angelou speak, we are excited to introduce you.
In one of her last interviews, Angelou shares her memory of the day she heard her friend Martin Luther King Jr. was shot, her intertwining fates with Hilary Clinton, and what brings her joy these days. If you feel like you need a hug from your mother, hearing Dr. Angelou speak is a close second. You can hear the interview here:
We all know Fitzgerald could stand on her own talent, the first five seconds of this live rendition of “Summertime” will tell you that. but the fact of the matter is that she had a hard time breaking through the music industry because of the color of her skin.
First, enjoy a video showcasing her powerful voice, and then enjoy this little-known relationship she had with Marilyn Monroe:
“I owe Marilyn Monroe a real debt … she personally called the owner of the Mocambo, and told him she wanted me booked immediately, and if he would do it, she would take a front table every night. She told him – and it was true, due to Marilyn’s superstar status – that the press would go wild. The owner said yes, and Marilyn was there, front table, every night. The press went overboard. After that, I never had to play a small jazz club again. She was an unusual woman – a little ahead of her times. And she didn’t know it.”
What activists like MLK and John Lewis said in speeches the Black Lives Matter says in three words. The message is the same, however. Usually, when you come across a Dr. King quote, it is light, lovely, docile. There are even news outlets that would say Dr. King wouldn’t approve of the riots that took place after George Floyd and Brianna Taylor, but what we found proves otherwise:
“...and I must say tonight that a riot is the language of the unheard. And what is it America has failed to hear? It has failed to hear that the plight of the negro poor has worsened over the last twelve or fifteen years. It has failed to hear that the promises of freedom and justice have not been met. And it has failed to hear that large segments of white society are more concerned about tranquility and the status quo than about justice and humanity.”
- Grosse Pointe High School: March 14, 1968
And more on the violence he saw in response to injustice:
“As I have walked among the desperate, rejected, and angry young men, I have told them that Molotov cocktails and rifles would not solve their problems…But they ask — and rightly so — what about Vietnam? They ask if our own nation wasn’t using massive doses of violence to solve its problems, to bring about the changes it wanted. Their questions hit home, and I knew that I could never again raise my voice against the violence of the oppressed in the ghettos without having first spoken clearly to the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today — my own government.”
- A Time to Break the Silence, 1967
Making the same point a minute into this MTV interview, Tupac Shakur echoes these words more pointedly (we are a California based company, after all).
What can we say about a man as legendary as Jimi Hendrix that isn’t already known? Probably nothing, but we do have this rare acoustic set of his, maybe that will make up for it.
Once you are on the come down from that video, you can hear the artist express his creativity in one of his last interviews here. Hendrix tended to shy away from politics, choosing to lead a revolution through his music, but still, his aim to change the soul of a person through art is just as powerful.
Truth be told, much of what is listed online about the Obamas is light-hearted and borderline promotional. They are mostly about their love for each other and staying strong as a family in the White House, but this interview dives into Michelle’s desire to see more self-educating among young women today. It is a refreshing change of pace from the cutesy interview one would usually find.
There is a time to share socks, and there is a time to highlight reality. We at Socksmith wanted to offer an appropriate tribute to the men and women courageous enough to stand up to injustice, whose communities do not have the leisure to remember black history through rose colored glasses. We look forward to how we can assist our fellow Americans in their fight for equality, even if that means representing them on the face of a sock.