Recently, I attended the March on Washington: Against Police Violence, with fellow Berklee students, faculty, and staff. As an agent for change, a torch carrier for social justice, a human rights activist, a civil rights activist, a culturally-competent-literate artist, and a young black man, I understood that it was my life duty to be in attendance. While walking down Pennsylvania Ave and seeing the people of every race, color, creed, orientation, religion, and background, I was reminded of what true solidarity and equality should be like. As I saw the faces of the mothers of slain, unarmed, profiled young black men, having to muster up enough courage to speak to a crowd of thousands, trying to justify their children’s death, my heart bled. As we sang civil rights hymns on the bus and train to the march as well as while at the rally, I paid homage to those artists, entertainers, athletes, and common folk who were the voice of disenfranchised people long before we had politicians and laws to “protect us.” Unfortunately, today, that representation of those said “celebrity voices” has become almost obsolete. I challenge us all to become “social engineers,” because we have enough parasites as it is.
The great James Baldwin suggested that, “To be black (of African descent) in America and relatively conscious of it, is to be enraged almost all of the time.” This quote goes hand in hand with the music that makes up 85% of the curriculum we study here at Berklee. Music is the voice of the human condition. For us to legitimately understand Muddy Waters, Duke Ellington, Sarah Vaughn, Miles Davis, Aretha Franklin, James Brown, Stevie Wonder, or Tupac, we must understand that this music was the response to systemic oppression in the United States, the same oppression and opposition we still face today. That’s what soul is; having life functional music with life functional messages. So today, in honor of all the lives lost in the U.S., the Middle East, and all around the world due to deep-seeded fear, ignorance, racism, sexism, homophobia, greed, capitalism, and lack of human compassion, I MARCH; and I will continue to MARCH because, in the words of Ella Baker, “We who believe in freedom cannot rest until it comes.”