Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Opening Address to the 1964 Berlin Jazz Festival

“God has wrought many things out of oppression. He has endowed hiscreatures with the capacity to create—and from this capacity hasflowed the sweet songs of sorrow and joy that have allowed man to copewith his environment and many different situations.
Jazz speaks for life. The Blues tell the story of life’s difficulties, and if you think for a moment, you will realize thatthey take the hardest realities of life and put them into music, onlyto come out with some new hope or sense of triumph.
This is triumphant music.
Modern jazz has continued in this tradition, singing the songs of amore complicated urban existence. When life itself offers no order andmeaning, the musician creates an order and meaning from the sounds ofthe earth which flow through his instrument.
It is no wonder that so much of the search for identity among American Negroes was championed by Jazz musicians. Long before the modern essayists and scholars wrote of racial identity as a problemfor a multiracial world, musicians were returning to their roots toaffirm that which was stirring within their souls.
Much of the power of our Freedom Movement in the United States hascome from this music. It has strengthened us with its sweet rhythms when courage began to fail. It has calmed us with its rich harmonies when spirits were down.
And now, Jazz is exported to the world. For in the particular struggle of the Negro in America there is something akin to the universal struggle of modern man. Everybody has the Blues. Everybody longs formeaning. Everybody needs to love and be loved. Everybody needs toclap hands and be happy. Everybody longs for faith.
In music, especially this broad category called Jazz, there is astepping stone towards all of these.”

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Opening Address to the 1964 Berlin Jazz Festival


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