Who Is Nina Simone?

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The only thing more powerful in mobilizing symbols, sentiments, and sensibilities than popular culture, is personal and shared experiences. What is so potent about pop culture however, is the ability of its participants to share their personal experiences to audiences than can both empathize and relate to the realities these artists present. This extended period of the civil rights and black power era can arguably be defined as the mobilization of the larger public by popular black figures whose individual charismas and drive inspired collective action. Some of these figures were exclusively political, many of which prominent intellects of race academia and/or known for their discourses that captivated thousands. And then there were figures that used their influence as musicians or writers who, with access beyond those with a conscious interest in politics, could incite people to think and reevaluate their lived realities through song and performance. Nina Simone is perhaps the most politically significant figure of the latter group, as she not only actively participated as a proponent of civil rights efforts, but became a pioneer in black power and feminist ideology.
Nina Simone transcended the typical ideas of blackness through her music, and used this position of respectability to further more radical, advanced ideas of black liberation that would make up much of the rhetoric for the 1970s and beyond. Before Nina Simone was an activist, or icon, or black power leader, she
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