Should you need a reminder that the fight for social justice has always been intertwined with music, you'd be hard pressed to find a better, more succinctly eloquent authority on the matter than Martin Luther King, Jr.'s speech about the potential of music to empower the oppressed, give voice to the voiceless, and serve as a unifying force in times of unrest.
This speech was originally thought to be MLK's opening remarks at the inaugural Berlin Jazz Festival in 1964, though in recent years historians have disputed this, suggesting he was never actually there, and these words made up the printed program's introduction.
[jump] Regardless: This project, produced by the SFJAZZ Center three years ago, invited some of the Bay Area's finest jazz and blues musicians — including Marcus Shelby, Meklit Hadero, and Wil Blades — to read Dr. King's words aloud. It's powerful, and (unfortunately) incredibly timely: The past year of non-indictment verdicts and widespread protests in the U.S. amounted to a sobering amount of proof (as if we needed any) that the Civil Rights Movement is far from over; it's no coincidence that 2014 was a big year for protest songs.
No time like the present to give this a listen.