Festival Founder George Wein at the 2017 Newport Jazz Festival

Newport Festivals Foundation shared the following message from their founder, George Wein, on Wednesday morning.

Text of Message

As I approach the ripe old age of 95, I think it is fair to say that “I’ve seen it all.” I’ve witnessed and experienced, first-hand, the evils of discrimination, hatred and bigotry.

I vividly recall the violence and unrest caused by the desegregation of the public schools in my hometown of Boston. I’ve traveled in the Jim Crow South but could not bring my wife to join in discussions about starting a festival (the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival), because interracial marriage was still against the law in that city. It pains me to say that despite the undeniable progress in race relations, brought about by the sheer force and determination of the Civil Rights Movement, “…justice for all” is not a reality for Black Americans.

For more than 60 years, my team and I have produced the Newport Jazz Festival (1954) and Newport Folk Festival (1959). We’ve connected musicians with audiences, creating decades of magical musical moments! The audience didn’t care about musicians’ skin color and the musicians didn’t care about the skin color of the folks in the audience. The only thing that mattered was the music. That is still the case today. For a fleeting moment, thousands of festivalgoers are united for one common purpose. It is an equal opportunity moment! The Newport Festivals community is what our nation needs to emulate.

George Floyd’s murder and all the other despicable incidents that have preceded it, sickens me to my core. It shows America at its very worst. The Newport Festivals show America at its best. None of us should rest until Black Lives Matter. All of us should be fully engaged until there truly is justice for all.

This is not my attempt at a statement. There have been plenty of them already. This is simply a message to the Newport Festivals community letting you know that I am alive and well and, most importantly, care deeply about you all.

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