MUSIC WITH A MESSAGE- MANY RIVERS TO CROSS FESTIVAL- ATLANTA- THE PULSE OF SOCIAL JUSTICE
Aug 27, 2017 | By: Tiffany Powell
We who believe in freedom cannot rest. We who believe in freedom cannot rest until it comes…
-Ella’s Song, Composed by Dr. Berniece Johnson Reagan
This evening as I sit here watching the election results roll in with my family I am still struck by how many people feel that it is ok to say I do not like either of my options so I’m not going to vote at all... See the thing is, too many people marched and protested and fought and unfortunately many died so that we could have the right to have our voices heard and the privilege to vote. This year many people have chosen to take a stand (even if an unpopular one) to say that, “our voices must be heard”. The injustice that exists in our country (in the world) must be addressed. So You must choose. You must pick a side, continue to take a stand make your voice heard. It is not only your right but it is your duty. The future depends on it.
Last week when I opened my mailbox this postcard that I addressed to myself when I attended the Many Rivers to Cross Festival here in Chatahoochee Hills, Georgia last month greeted me. During the festival, Ben and Jerry’s was there giving out Empowerment ice cream while also educating people on the importance of voting and being involved in the political process and even assisting those who still needed to register to vote. The cost of the Ice-cream? Participation. I filled out a postcard pledging to get out and vote and thought nothing of it. So fast-forward to last week, I opened my mailbox and there was this postcard reminding me of my prior commitment to make it to the polls this month. Your vote is your voice; use it or lose it!
The postcard also served as a reminder me of this empowering and uplifting festival. I was only able to attend the second day of the festival and I must say the pulse and energy of the crowds was electrifying. The line-up was incredible and I was honored to witness Mr. Harry Belafonte’s return to the stage after an extended absence following a stroke over a decade ago. The activists, artists and attendees all came together in the name of social justice and empowerment. On the main stage powerful images were shown on the screen behind the performers and speakers throughout the day.
This festival was about more than music! In the 60s Belafonte was know to support the civil rights movement in many ways. At the bequest of Martin Luther King Junior, Belafonte traveling throughout the country enlisting the help of others to go to the south and help people register to vote. He also provided much needed resources and money for the movement. Belafonte’s time as an activist and entertainer has spanned several decades. Perhaps ahead of the times Belafonte is a living-breathing example of the power that celebrities, entertainers and artists have to use their fame as a platform for social justice. A new generation of artist activists came together last month at the Many Rivers to Cross Festival reminding us that the fight for racial justice and human rights continues. The discourse, social justice village and performances touched upon issues vital to our community.
Art is not a mirror held up to reality, but a hammer with which to shape it.
I talk often of the way music (and photographs) makes us feel. Throughout history music has been used to convey certain thoughts, feelings, or messages. When you listen to the music attributed to certain eras you can take the pulse of the social and political climates of that period. Historically musicians have rallied behind various causes and lifted their collective and individual voices in support of ( in demand of) change. Whether a catalyst for, or a soundtrack of change the pulse of music is inextricably intertwined.
“The role of the artist is exactly the same as the role of the lover. If I love you, I have to make you conscious of the things you don’t see.”