Martin Luther King, Barack Obama and Music


Fifty years ago today, Martin Luther King Jr. made a historic speech with a vision of a nation at racial peace. A sense of unity, promise and purpose was reflected in the music of the time. Songs like “A Change is Gonna Come”, “The Times They Are a Changing”, “This Little Light of Mine” and “Blowin’ in the Wind” were emotionally uplifting and can still grip the American mind with their inspirational words.

Half a century later, what has happened to music? Today’s degradation of music to something called rap, where lyrics are filled with bitches and hoes and the dreaded n-word (I won’t say or write the word and lower myself to Jay-Z’s level) must make Martin Luther King roll over in his grave.

Speaking of Jay-Z, Remember when Obama had Jay-Z (and Springsteen) campaign for him in Ohio? Obama said “They tell the story of what our country is, but also of what it should be and what it can be.” I saw a big problem with that on so many levels.


The rap-music world has persisted for years with scarcely any complaint from today’s civil-rights leaders and here we have a president who sides with one of the biggest users of the n-word. For what? A campaign boost?

His failure to denounce these lyrics for the damage they do to poor and minority families is a disgrace to Martin Luther King’s dream. A president that wants to “keep it real” with a celebrity who claims to be the ‘illest (n-word) alive’ sends the wrong message to our youth.

What has happened to Martin Luther King’s dream? What has happened to us? Have we squandered our hope? Can we, as a nation, regain our sense of promise? After 50 years, we can see the answer. But sadly, we can’t catch it. The answer is still blowin’ in the wind.


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