Each year, on Martin Luther King Day, Cincinnati marks the occasion with a day of events. This year, the activities included a march, a service at Music Hall, several high school basketball games, and a community-wide celebration of the works of a man who acted for freedom and justice in this country of ours.
I sing (baritone) with a chorus called Voices of Freedom, who, on this day, lifted our 100+ voices as a major part of that service at Music Hall. Our songs are of community, peace, and freedom, many of the sources for our music being spirituals and other songs of joy and freedom. The music reaches somewhere deep inside me, inspiring me to celebrate my humanness and my connection with all those around me. I sing these songs with passion, love, and joy.
After the concert today, several of us went out for lunch, enjoying the opportunity to spend time together and enjoy good conversation. As you might imagine on this day, the talk moved towards social change, peace, and so forth. At some point, maybe it was after that first glass of wine and halfway through the soup, we talked about the peace movement, the Year 1968–when Dr. King was assassinated along with Bobby Kennedy, our communities were rioting, the Tet Offensive took place, and I graduated high school. I mentioned that in subsequent years I was actively involved with the peace movement in Cincinnati as a committee member on several anti-war planning teams, a marshal on many peace marches through the streets of The Queen City, and actively involved in peace-oriented groups on the University of Cincinnati campus.
It took little transition, well, at least with this group, to get from the Movement during the Vietnam War times to speaking out against the war in Iraq and Afghanistan. What was I doing now? How was I involved?
I am not involved in the same way as I was almost 40 years ago. My beliefs are quite similar, but my actions quite different.
My comment, on this Martin Luther King Day was that I believe that what I can do is sing for change. That by bringing music of peace, commitment, and change to this community, I could do my part. As I mentioned, I’ve done my share of marching.
Through music and the passion it inspires, we can reach others. Motivating and encouraging them to transcend the day-to-day. With song, we can reach inside our own hearts and touch the hearts of those around us, moving them to do the right thing.
What do you think? Does music resonate within you and inspire you? Am I full of truth or full of baloney? Or somewhere in between? Is singing for change, as I characterize it, a valid method for bringing change to this nation so desperately in need of healing?