Martin Luther King Jr.
“Three hundred years of humiliation, abuse and deprivation cannot be expected to find a voice in a whisper.”
On January 18, 2021, Southern Oregon University created a video program reflecting on the 1960s as documented in Why We Can’t Wait, a novel written by Martin Luther King Jr., and the parallels of today. This video program included performances by local artists and community groups, as well as a live panel discussion on the topic.
This book is important because The parallels of 1963 are so relevant to what is happening now. Martin Luther King Jr. is a man who did what he did for humanity, to have a better humanity in the world. Today you don’t see people who are willing to put their life on the line for humanity.
This short film spoke on the importance of the statement “why we can’t wait.” The book starts off with the thought that it was more than protests and the “I Have A Dream” speech. Dr. King fought with his knowledge of discrimination and the segregation around him, not violence. What defined the premise of Dr. Kings battle was The Negro Revolution. He drew on the history of black oppression and current political circumstances to articulate the growing frustration of many African Americans. The idea of being able to have a protest for the lives of those who are “less than” for those who were segregated years back. Looking at 2020 compared to the 1960’s, it’s not much different. We see those fighting peacefully for the right to be. The right to not be shot and killed for just the color of our skin, then seeing what happened on January 6th, 2021. Why are people who are mad their president didn’t win getting to raid the capital and create such violence. This proves that the white man is held to a higher standard than the black man. “Never in American history had a group seized the streets, the square, the marbled halls of government to protest and proclaim the unendurability of their oppression.”
One importance of the movement was music and art. Freedom songs were a tool used as the soul of the movement. Freedom Songs were songs sung by participants in the civil rights movement. They are also called “civil rights anthems” or, in the more hymn-like cases, “civil rights hymns.” These songs were a way of life during the civil rights movement. The songs contained many meanings for all participants. Songs could embody sadness, happiness, joy, or determination among many other feelings. Freedom songs served as mechanisms for unity among the black community during the movement. The songs also served as a means of communication among the participants when words just were not enough. In 202, we had the Black Live Matter Movement. This movement stood for those who were oppressed for the color of their skin. There are many songs used today to support the movement. One very important song that stemmed from the start of the BLM movement is “Freedom” by Beyoncé. Feat. Kendrick Lamar. The pop superstar made one of the most striking political statements of her career with “Freedom.” In the context of the visual album, the black-and-white clip that accompanies the track was followed by the interlude-like “Forward,” in which the mothers of slain black men Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner and Michael Brown are seen holding pictures of their sons, whose deaths launched the Black Lives Matter movement. This song started the Black Lives Matter Movement. This song is very powerful and strong. One of the lines “Freedom, freedom I can’t move.” This seem to stem from the statement “I can’t Breathe” said by Eric Gardner at the hands of NYPD officers. This happened seven years ago and we are still fighting for the right to not be killed based on our skin color.
This livestream ended with a great live panel discussion. Included in this discussion was Dr. Geneva Craig. Craig was born in Selma, Alabama. She grew up as a happy child, but something in here changed as she became more and more aware of the society in which she lived.
“I was an angry teenager who had joined the civil rights movement. I was committed to not live a life that was similar to my parents and grandparents. I was not alone, there were a host of others who were feeling just like me. Dr. King recognized us. He could relate to us and he let us know that he needed us.”
She got to experience the Civil Rights Movement first hand. On one encounter that Dr. Craig had with Dr. King told her that she was intelligent, she was smart, and that she could become, and could accomplish anything that she wanted to. But, she had to learn one thing and that thing was patience. She got to experience Dr. King first hand and she how invested and empowered he was to make this movement real and happen.
Seeing all that I have within this video and conference today, I realized that this movement in 2020 is extremely important and it needs to continue until we have justice for those who suffered and for those we lost.