I started reading The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr. along with the recordings of his speeches and I feel a feeling of SOMEBODINESS from listening to his words and the music and to the voice of Levar Burton and the voices of the audience’s reply to King. The concept of Black Social Gospel becomes new and rewarding. Something not only of the past but also apart of me.
I owe it to myself to become better and also to those who fought so hard and long for me to use every part of me to help my community succeed to higher heights.
For a while, I did not feel the need to learn about the life of Martin Luther King, Jr. Simply because I thought I knew enough about him. I felt that all my years of school I have always learned about King and never about Malcolm X or Medgar Evers. However, it wasn’t until I started forcing myself to read about these people when I found out that I knew nothing much about Martin. I am glad that I have decided to listen to his speeches and read his books. The words are potent. His diction is strong. It makes me wish I was there. And at one point (when he was speaking of the beginning of the Bus Boycott) he said No historian would ever be able fully to describe this meeting and no sociologist would ever be able to interpret it adequately. One had to be a part of the experience really to understand it. I understand my lost of being born in a different time and place but I also understand my gain from their suffering. And my gain is not free.
Not only did reading about others and their works force me to study the life of Martin Luther King Jr. but also because I realise that I am given over to my surroundings to the aesthetics of music and art during the mid to late 20th Century; therefore, I should know more about this period. Reading about the life of great photographers like Gordon Parks and Moneta Sleet, Jr and listening to music by Mahalia Jackson only gave me half of an idea about their lives and this moment. To say I love the principle sound of the organ or piano that is backing up Mahalia Jackson’s voice and the textures and prints of Mrs. King’s clothing without knowing why is not enough for me. Just like the movement did not happen because of King, the music did not sound this way because of Mahalia. And I may not know the answers to many questions of this period but with patience and personal study I seek to find out. Because there is something about this period that makes me who I am.