Jerry Rushin, who manages South Florida's WEDR and WHQT radio stations, said the funk song by singer James Brown is historically relevant for its impact on the civil rights movement of the 1960s, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reported Sunday.
"It's probably the most important soul record because of its timing and the issues at the time," Rushin said of "Proud," which was released in August 1968.
Florida Atlantic University history professor Christopher Strain also recognizes the song's historical importance during those tumultuous times.
"It stood for black empowerment and self-reliance," he said. "The political climate in which he wrote the song couldn't have been more timely."
Yet Brown downplayed his creation's relevance in a 1986 autobiography, going so far as to call it "obsolete," the Sun-Sentinel reported.
"The song is obsolete now. Really, it was obsolete when I cut it, but it was needed," Brown wrote. "You shouldn't have to tell people what race they are, and you shouldn't have to teach people they should be proud."