We begin a serious study of Hip Hop Kulture with Dr Martin Luther King Jr. The phenomenon today we know as Hiphop; our collective consciousness and community, comes from a Love and force that manifested during the Civil Rights Movement. There were many prominent leaders during this period in America and indeed across the world fighting for justice and civil rights. People such as Malcolm X, Rosa Parks, Steve Biko, CLR James, Myles Horton, Josephine Baker, Jo Ann Robinson and many others gave Hip Hop the cultural foundation to become the worldwide unifying force it is today.
Dr Martin Luther King Jr was renowned baptist minister, activist, humanitarian, and leader in the Civil Rights Movement, known for his civil disobedience ethic and non violent activism. On August 28th, 1963, he gave his famous ‘I Have A Dream’ speech. This event led to the actualisation of our Hip Hop Nation. We know according to Dr King, 1963 was “not and end, but a beginning”. Though, even to this day, we are still a young civilisation, it is true that Hiphop has met “physical force with soul force”. The creative expression of Hip Hop and its five traditional elements, along with its four additional elements is a projection of this soul force.
I AM Hip Hop magazine has countless examples of this soul force in the various articles, reviews, interviews and art produced by various people from the Hip Hop community.
Martin Luther King Jr.’s speech was originally intended to be delivered in a pre-written form, yet, when Mahlia Jackson urged him to “Tell us about the dream” he began to tell us his message unscripted and from the heart:
“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the colour of their skin but the content of their character”.
This is how Hiphoppa’s get respect today. Hip Hop in its early days, and even to this day, is based on our respectability, loyalty and how we conduct ourselves. As an answering to Dr. Martin Luther King’s speech, Hiphop became that unified force that transcends race, class and nationality. Hip Hop is in fact all of these subdivisions of human culture, and none exclusively. It is within Hiphop that was are truly judged on the content of our character.
“With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood” Dr King continued his speech:
“Let Freedom ring from the Stone Mountain of Georgia.”
“Let Freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee. ”
“Let freedom ring from every mountainside, let freedom ring”
Thus begins the early days of Hip Hop. It was this generation of the people growing up in the 1960’s and 1970’s that pioneered Hip Hop into its modern essence. It is us who are continuing it now. Though market forces portray a particular kind of hip-hop image for sale value, Hip Hop today is a young nation of human beings from different classes, creeds, cultures and countries unified in their methods of creative expression artistry and shared consciousness. One could imagine Hip Hop to be Martin Luther King’s Promised Land today. Those of us who live Hip Hop’s Ovastandings and perceive ourselves as Hip Hop know it to be so. Hiphoppas are truly free to be themselves.
You can listen to Mumia Abu Jamal on Martin Luther King here :
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