Martin Luther King Jr on Jazz


Painting by Bruni Sablan an amazing and highly productive painter.

While surfing the net I came across these words written by the late Martin Luther King Jr on the subject of Jazz. They were for the foreword of the program of the 1964 Berlin Jazz Festival:

On the Importance of Jazz

God has wrought many things out of oppression. He has endowed his creatures with the capacity to create—and from this capacity has flowed the sweet songs of sorrow and joy that have allowed man to cope with his environment and many different situations.
Jazz speaks for life. The Blues tell the story of life’s difficulties, and if you think for a moment, you will realize that they take the hardest realities of life and put them into music, only to come out with some new hope or sense of triumph.
This is triumphant music.
Modern jazz has continued in this tradition, singing the songs of a more complicated urban existence. When life itself offers no order and meaning, the musician creates an order and meaning from the sounds of the earth which flow through his instrument.
It is no wonder that so much of the search for identity among American Negroes was championed by Jazz musicians. Long before the modern essayists and scholars wrote of racial identity as a problem for a multiracial world, musicians were returning to their roots to affirm that which was stirring within their souls.
Much of the power of our Freedom Movement in the United States has come from this music. It has strengthened us with its sweet rhythms when courage began to fail. It has calmed us with its rich harmonies when spirits were down.
And now, Jazz is exported to the world. For in the particular struggle of the Negro in America there is something akin to the universal struggle of modern man. Everybody has the Blues. Everybody longs for meaning. Everybody needs to love and be loved. Everybody needs to clap hands and be happy. Everybody longs for faith.
In music, especially this broad category called Jazz, there is a stepping stone towards all of these.

An interesting article concerning the origins of this “speech” can be found here >>>. As it turns out, even though these words were written by Martin Luther King Jr, they were never an opening speech for the Berlin Jazz Festival 1964 as is claimed all over the internet. Martin Luther King Jr was never there. This is the foreword for the program.

A series of printed products is available at my zazzle shop: www.zazzle.co.nz/johndierckx

(picture by John Dierckx: several prints available here >>> and here >>>)

Beautiful words that capture the essence, spirit and history of jazz. Blues and jazz as “triumphant music” that turns our harsh realities into something beautiful. Jazz is about life and hearing the greats play, one can only conclude that no matter how harsh our existence may be at a certain point in our lives, no matter how big the challenges the Lord is putting on our path, they all form part of this beautiful thing called life.

Martin Luther King Jr Memorial: donate by seaching the net


The clock started ticking in the planned 20 month construction process of the Martin Luther King Jr Memorial. Those running the nonprofit in charge of raising money and building plan to open the four-acre site in late summer or early fall next year. The monument sits between the Lincoln and Jefferson Memorials on the Tidal Basin.

Alphi Phi Alphi, the fraternity to which King belonged, took responsibility for raising the projected $120 million to plan and build the memorial. It created the nonprofit Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial Project Foundation.The foundation’s website can be found at http://www.buildthedream.org.

About

Dr. Martin Luther King is remembered as a great orator whose impact on the nation came from the eloquence and inspirational quality of his words. His speeches, sermons and public addresses melded themes of democracy deeply embedded in the American conscience, and reinvigorated these messages with clear and insightful reflections on the true meaning of justice and equality. The entire memorial is meant to invoke the memory and spiritual presence of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. through the visual experience of place, reinforced by the full range of sensory perception, the metaphorical use of water, stone and other landscape elements, the powerful display of passages from his sermons and speeches and the appearance of his physical image in the “Stone of Hope”.

Some quotes:

“There are two types of laws: there are just laws and there are unjust laws…What is the difference between the two?…An unjust law is a man-made code that is out of harmony with the moral law…Paul Tillich has said that sin is separation. Isn’t segregation an existential expression of man’s tragic separtion, an expression of his awful estrangement, his terrible sinfulness?”


– Martin Luther King, Jr., 1963

World peace through nonviolent means is neither absurd nor unattainable. All other methods have failed. Thus we must begin anew. Nonviolence is a good starting point. Those of us who believe in this method can be voices of reason, sanity, and understanding amid the voices of violence, hatred, and emotion. We can very well set a mood of peace out of which a system of peace can be built.

– Martin Luther King, Jr. December 1964

I Have a Dream

This historic speech could of course not be left out in this post.

Help Raising Funds, by searching the internet

Raising funds to this cause has been made very easy for anyone who doesn’t have the desire or means to make a (tax deductible) donation. You can help raise funds to build Dr. King’s Memorial on the National Mall in Washington, DC simply by searching everyday using your IE or Firefox web browser and the MLK Memorial toolbar. For every search you perform using the toolbar $.05 will be donated to the Washington DC Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial Foundation to begin construction on the Memorial in Washington, DC.

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