18.2.11

The slept-on speeches of Dr. Martin Luther King mixed over timeless, meditative hip-hop production



In an effort to make the entire body of Dr. Martin Luther King's teachings available to the young masses, The Black Organizing Network sent us this ridiculously meditative, educational "Liberating Dr. King: The L's Coming" mix.

Liberating Dr. King: The L's Coming

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It features slept-on MLK speeches over timeless hip-hop production in frequencies conducive for focus; from producers like J Dilla and 9th Wonder. Here's the tracklist:

01) Jay Dee "Much More" (De La Soul)
02) Oddisee "Goodbye DC"
03) Gil Scott-Heron "Whitey On The Moon"
04) Karriem Riggins "Harmony" (Slum Village)
05) Georgia Anne Muldrow "If So"
06) Fertile Ground "Black Is"
07) Georgia Anne Muldrow "Thrones"
08) Khrysis "Watch Me" (Little Brother)
09) The Coup "Underdogs"
10) Sa-Ra Creative Partners "Love Czars"
11) 2Pac "Words Of Wisdom"
12) Organized Noize "Black Ice (Sky High)" (Goodie MOb)
13) Jimi Hendrix Band Of Gypsys "Machine Gun"
14) Dudley Perkins "Run It Down"
15) Jay Dee "Love It Here" (Elzhi)
16) Erykah Badu "A.D. 2000"
17) DJ Spinna "Holiday remix" (Roy Ayers)
18) Georgia Anne Muldrow "Fantastic remix"

This is something you can listen to while working on another task and let your subconscious soak up the deep wisdom of King. Here's how they describe the purpose and process of putting the project together, followed by an essay that accompanied the mixtape for those who like to dig deep. But, really, I found that the mix stands on its own and doesn't need too much explanation.

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"The time has come to elevate the popular understanding of Dr. King. For too long, we have been drenched with the "I Have A Dream" speech. The philosophical depth of Dr. King's last years have been eschewed so that we don't realize that the exact same issues he was dealing with from 1966-1968 are the same ones we are experiencing now in an intensified form. This mix can be used as a teaching tool, a conversation starter, a road trip mix, etc. It is an effort to bring independent, unsanctioned media to grassroots communities for the deliberate purpose of political education and organizing."
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Kingdom or Confusion? Black Youth Are The Key
by Marcus Bellamy (The Black Organizing Network)

“The hard cold facts today indicate that the hope of the people of color in the world may well rest on the American Negro and his ability to reform the structure of racist imperialism from within and thereby turn the technology and wealth of the West to the task of liberating the world from want.”
-Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos Or Community? (Beacon Press, 1967)

Voting? Not nearly. Holding hands? Quite the contrary. By 1967, Dr. King had run far afoul of
United States consensus about what it meant to be a “responsible civil rights leader.” His very public criticism of the Vietnam War evoked criticisms from within his own ranks of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference all the way to the Oval Office. It was either Andrew Young (later CEO of Wal-Mart and short-lived Trilateral Commission member) saying that King was “spreading the movement too thin,” other Black preachers suggesting that “peace and civil rights don't mix,” or President Lyndon Baines Johnson himself, in a fit of white racist backlash, asking, “What is that goddamned nigger preacher doing to me?” after King's speech at Riverside Church on April 4th, 1967.

From 1965 until his death in 1968, Dr. King was radicalized. In the same book quoted above, he
reflects that the sole act of ensuring the vote for Black folks was not enough to fundamentally alter power relationships in American society. In '65, King moved to Chicago in order to understand the problem of poverty in Northern ghettos. By doing this, he developed a critique that America, with all its technological breakthroughs, space voyages, and domestic riches, must not have truly wanted to make “war on poverty” because providing adequate employment, housing and education for the poor would really have been a skirmish compared to the massive expenditures on NASA explorations and the Vietnam War budget of $332,000 per enemy kill. This critique, linking poverty to the United States being an empire which sought to extend its power by any means necessary, compelled the elite in the United States to assassinate him. However, Dr. King was not the first, nor was he the last to be dealt with in this fashion.

Each year, the nation conveniently repackages King into a safe Hallmark card that is fit for everybody's viewing and digestion. “Controversial” parts of his life such as his calls for a “radical redistribution of political and economic power,” “a revolution in American values,” and an end to “racism, materialism, and war” do not fit into this Hallmark card. Our question should be, “Who wrote this Hallmark card? Why did they do it? What interest do they have in making us forget (or never even acknowledge) Dr. King's full history?” Unfortunately, due to the fervor we Blacks in Arizona had in just getting the holiday sanctioned, we have taken a very leisurely approach to studying Dr. King and the context of his resistance. If more of us were informed about Dr. King, his peers, his followers, his historical antecedents and his successors, the youth that we consistently criticize would not have the lethargic “here we go again” look on their faces when King Day and Black History Month roll back around every year. Indeed, we as elders, who are supposed to have either lived the history (“I marched with King”) or know it by heart (“Y'all got it easy.”), have reduced our liberation struggle to Saturday chores. At this point, Dr. King is merely interrupting cartoons, cereal and video games. The youth are not to blame, we are.

How do we change this? The Black Organizing Network proposes a mass re-education campaign.

This campaign is multi-purpose and multi-message (a few of which are included here):

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1) Develop alternative “schools” (as long as they are disciplined, these could be discussion groups, film clubs, Saturday schools, etc.) for Blacks (youth and elders alike) headed by capable facilitators who can administer history conversations accompanied by multimedia and connect seemingly “long time ago” events to our current situation as Africans in America.

2) These conversations will demythologize the movement. By this, I mean that Dr. King, Rosa
Parks and Malcolm X are not the only Black people who ever resisted. Frankly, we haven't
even properly understood those three people, much less their larger contexts. But by continuing
to misunderstand them, and yet reference them, we have effectively told ourselves and young
people that “Black leaders lived from 1957 until 1968. Black leaders are either men who speak
at podiums all the time or women who stay quiet unless they say 'no.'” And then, also
mistakenly, we present King and X as some kind of polar opposites between whom young
people have to choose.

3) The so-called Civil Rights Movement was not a fight for the right to vote. The Civil Rights
Movement was a certain wing of the Black Liberation Movement, which dates back to Africa
being invaded by Arab and then later European enslavers (e.g. centuries ago). The Black
Liberation Movement itself must also be understood as part of the global struggle for self-determination of dispossessed peoples. Self-determination should be understood as the power
to control one's own destiny. Voting is only one tiny way to affect the condition of a people.
Furthermore, in a historical moment like today when voting for presidents and local candidates
who are chosen for us by individual rich people and corporations, sheroes and heroes such as
Fannie Lou Hamer, Ella Baker, Dr. King, and even those who actually were murdered in the act
of registering Black folks to vote would likely not emphasize the vote as a tool to control our
own destiny today. Therefore, the myth that has been imposed upon youth and elders alike that
our ancestors “died for the right to vote” is a silly assertion at best that this campaign must
correct immediately.

4) We have won nothing. Even Dr. King himself, in the same book quoted throughout this article,
said that laws and investigative commissions do nothing to enforce justice. Through accurately
understanding our collective history, and not just King and Juneteenth, we integrate our Black
youth into the larger reality of being members of the 1,000,000,000 strong African family. Like
any family, this one has responsibilities, culture, history, and other elements to which we must
stay true and struggles that we must continue.
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By forwarding this proposal, the Black Organizing Network is not merely saying “we ought to,” “we need to,” “y'all gotta stop,” or other ego-stroking manifestos frequently spoken at meetings. We produced the Dr. King mixtape and are available to facilitate discussions, presentations, or classes on Black history/contemporary issues. Our goal for 2011 is to institutionalize alternative media and alternative education within the Black community in Arizona. By institutionalize, we mean make them concrete and consistent so that people can sense it on a regular basis.

The “hard cold facts” that Dr. King cited above are still applicable today. It is first and foremost Black folks within the United States who must make the necessary alterations to this society's power relationships so that other global freedom movements can gain some breathing space, since the United States itself holds so much power over so many other nations. Therefore, from now on, we must hold each other accountable for a precise commemoration of our history. Without understanding what Dr. King truly represented on a global scale, we will fall into a distorted way of commemorating him: marching in the streets with no purpose, and forgetting about it the next day (sound familiar?).

4 comments:

Melissa Olson said...

For me there is always that tension between Dr. King's descriptions of land in the U.S. that is "given away" to white farmers in the West and Midwest, without any mention of that land as having been taken away or stolen and his position on the war in Vietnam where he talks about the U.S. destroying Vietnamese social fabric. He interrogates the uses of history so eloquently its hard to imagine he did not see that the war in Vietnam was in some way similar to the wars that had been fought in the Americas only a hundred years earlier.

Fiona Bloom said...

Exceptional!!!

(RAS) jbro + tiger said...

King and Malcom's roads were coming together.  Even King's 'I HAVE A DREAM' speech has more revolutionary moments than the little sound bite they feed us every year.  As long as we are alive, King's legacy will be remembered as it should.  Thanks for this musical tribute.  We hosted ur own here in Austin this past Sunday - http://galleries.austin360.com/gallery/all-rise-mlk-celebration-011512/#336062

achali said...

If I had a classroom this would be the entire period

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