Many artists to this day create art based on exposing inequality. I'm sure many of them, even in nations beyond ours, have Dr. King to thank for his inspiration and outspokenness towards social inequality. Dr. King's own words from his "I Have a Dream Speech" touch on his choice to creatively solve the issues we faced.
"We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force."
I recently viewed a cable special on the original television show Star Trek, which made me understand Dr. King's connection to creativity to solve issues even more. The only television show Dr. King reportedly would let his young children watch was Star Trek. He shared an inspirational moment with one of the show's actresses Nichelle Nichols when he encouraged her to stay on the show for the positive role she was portraying of African Americans. A groundbreaking role in broadcasting at the time. I had admired Dr. King as a person who fought for the good of all, but now I see Dr. King’s embrace of creativity through his views of performance art.
Dr King's life was cut incredibly short. There is no telling what sort of creative resolutions he would have come up with or encouraged if he had more time. Society still faces some of the struggles Dr. King fought against, and we are facing new ones as well. Look at the Middle East and the people fighting for their social and political rights. At this new crossroads we are at, the world will need to look to and expand upon Dr. King's creative ways to fight against inequality. Artists will need to continue to expose all forms of inequality in their art whether it's visual, performance, multi-media or in literature. A past show at our local art museum, Pattern ID is a show that really impressed on me how artists are exploring the ever-changing face of our social equality status. Local station PBS Western Reserve had an excellent video with details on this show.
Creative influences will continue to expose more and more people to standing up for equality for all mankind. The beliefs of one incredible man who pursued and fought for equality, inspired by the American dream, can be spread beyond our nation creatively for all. And no matter what struggles we face here in the U.S. look to Dr. King’s words for encouragement and share in Dr. King's beliefs:
“I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.”
Photo collage by Janet Pahlau