Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Remembering Martin Luther King

There has been much coverage of the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King's 'I have a dream' speech and rightly so. King is one of my heroes (others include Sam Cooke and Nelson Mandela) and the story of the civil rights movement made a big impression on me during the 1960s. I have the LP of his speeches The Great March To Freedom which was put out by Motown on the Gordy label and I've put it on Ebay in the hope that someone else may wish to hear his brilliant oratory.
Earlier this year I went to the Civil Rights Museum in Montgomery, Alabama, which I found very moving, with displays detailing the many people, both black and white, who died during the civil rights struggle. I've visited the Lorraine Motel in Memphis several times - the place where King was assassinated - and another place filled with history. Similarly, the Stax Museum in Memphis, which I've visited three times, outlines many of the major civil rights events of the 60s, including the 1968 riots which effectively marked the beginning of the end for this pioneering multi-racial record company. Sam Cooke's prophetic 1964 record A Change Is Gonna Come is a favourite of mine, as is People Get Ready by the Impressions.
African Americans found their voice in the 1960s and the result, 40 years later, was the election of a black President, demonstrating how much the country has changed. Yet visits to the southern states show that there is still an enormous gulf between blacks and whites. I regularly visit black music clubs with my (white) friends but many of them are rarely visited by local white residents: most of those relatively few white people who are there are Europeans or the more open-minded students who are curious about the past. You can sense the racism that still exists in the south today.
The fountain showing the timeline of the civil rights movement, at the Civil Rights Museum in Montgomery.

The Lorraine Motel in Memphis where Martin Luther King was assassinated in 1968.
Finally here is Message From A Blackman, recorded by the Spinners (known in the UK as the Motown or Detroit Spinners) which inexplicably went unreleased in the UK. The cover by the Temptations on their Puzzle People LP is better known, but not as good in my opinion.   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UqOGhcetMYo


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