Monday, February 27, 2006

Black History Month

Putting down in writing this short history of jazz organ has helped me understand some things about the popularity of the genre that I didn't see before.

That the popularity of jazz organ was driven by the need for community in the Afro-American culture, particularly in a world where they were attempting to redeem citizenship in a country that already owed them that.

Out of that came complex music, not from a university or textbook, but from the Spirit within.

Additionally, that the organ, historically already long since established in religious culture, and specifically the Hammond organ, having itself already been established in American Black Gospel churches, was a further celebration of culture relevant to that community.

Every year in February, PBS runs a special on MLK, called 'Citizen King'. It's about an hour long. They show interviews of people he worked with and clips of his speeches and marches.

Something that always amazes me is the absolute hatred on the faces of the white people protesting the marches.

It's something I can't even imagine now.

It was just a different time that I'm glad I didn't have to live in it.

I like to think that I can say with self-righteousness that I wouldn't have acted like that, and I would have been marching right along with the rest of them.

I always learn something different about Dr. King and that era everytime I see it this presentation.

Did you know Jesse Jackson was with King on the balcony in Memphis when King was shot? I didn't know that.

For all of King's victories, it seems sometimes he was met with more failure.

In Birmingham, he conducted a non-violent march with adults. The police came and arrested him and the marchers.

The idea was that the march would attract media attention and public outrage by the way the marchers were treated.

This failed.

That is why he chose to have children participate in the march.

The media jumped all over it.

Children were sprayed with fire hoses, dragged and carried away in ambulances.

This attracted plenty of media attention and King was able to influence the government to pass the first of his Civil Rights laws, and then which followed the bombing of the Sunday School.

For this he also won a Nobel Peace Prize.

Then he tried his marches in Chicago which ended up in failure again.

Neither did I realize that he spoke out against the Vietnam War.

But certainly we don't measure MLK's life in his failures in as much as we do his perserverance and overall success in the face of trials.

This is what makes a hero and a man worthy of respect. Dr. King certainly didn't choose the road of least resistance.

If their songs continue to be sung, then so shall they continue to be remembered.

The importance to me of continuing to play this music is that I love it, and that it represents the stories of heroes, sometimes largely unsung, and it's a way that I can not only participate in something that I really wish I could have been part of, but help continue that in a Spirit of respect.