MARTIN LUTHER KING JR. ON JAZZ ( African Classical Music )
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 in many different situations.
Jazz speaks of life, the blues tell the stories of life's difficulties, and
if you think about it 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 , 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 multi=racial world,
musicians were returning to their roots to affirm that which was stirring within
Much of the power of our Freedom Movement in the United States has come
from this music. It has strengthen us with its powerful rhythms when courage
begin to fall. 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 the broad category called Jazz, there is a stepping
stone towards all of these.
Martin Luther King Jr.
Opening address in 1964 Berlin Jazz Festival
Source: DUSABLE MUSEUM OF AFRICAN-AMERICAN HISTORY
740 E. 56th Place, Chicago, ILL. 60637