Carlos Santana, during an acceptance speech Saturday in Atlanta for the Major League Baseball (MLB) Beacon Awards, had a few simple words for Georgia’s political leaders who recently voted to pass the controversial HB 87 immigration bill “Shame on You!”
The bill signed Friday by Gov. Nathan Deal sets mandatory requirements for police and employers to screen suspects and job applicants for immigration status. Many contest the legislation arguing that it will promote racial profiling, increase the rate of deportation and adversely affect the state’s economy.
Santana, who is of Hispanic descent, was selected for the Beacon Award due to his multi-generational efforts to unify people through music. The Beacon Award for “Change,” is bestowed upon individuals who “think innovatively”. Santana has used the power of words and sound as vehicles for change.
He began playing music in the early 1960s, before the world was fully prepared to absorb the cross-cultural tones of his music -but he continued to play. Blending seductive Latin sounds with bold rock &roll melodies, Santana’s emergent style took hold during the late 1960s, claiming fans throughout the globe; and unifying listeners of various persuasions. Making Billboard history, Santana is the only artist other than the Rolling Stone to have at least one Top Ten album every decade since the 1960’s.
Santana also established the Milagro Foundation, which helps underserved children around the world.
At the reception, he made his opposition to intolerance and actions against inclusiveness very clear.
“I represent the invisible,” Santana declared to hundreds at the Omni Hotel. ” — the people who change the sheets, the people who clean the toilets — Only those who see the invisible, can do the impossible.”
For his success, he credited influence from various groups and individuals including the Black Panthers, Arthur Ashe, Malcolm X, hippies, and the “pure wisdom of the original keepers of the land, Native Americans.”
From a musical perspective, Santana cited a lengthy list of influencers including Miles Coltrane, Tito Puente, The Beetles, Bob Marley, Marvin Gaye, and Bob Dillon.
“We are all architects of a new don,” he proclaimed.
The Grammy-Award singer concluded his acceptance humorously, but quite seriously with a few words for the event organizers also: “I know where I am, and I know what time it is, but next time you invite me to an event, please play Miles Coltrane; play Kenny G in the elevator.”
The Beacon award is given annually by MLB to individuals who have fought on and off the field for equal rights in America. Santana received the awarded along with actor Morgan Freeman who won the Beacon of Hope for his role in desegregating the high school prom in his home town in 1997; and baseball Hall of Famer Ernie Banks who was given the Beacon of Life for his legendary achievements in baseball and civil rights.