Sunday, February 10, 2013

6 Artists: Civil Rights Roundtable

THE QUESTION of what qualifications do artists and entertainers have to use their high visibility to comment on worldly affairs has been long debated.   However that is the very essence of what defines an artist isn't it?
An artist might be an entertainer, but an entertainer is not an artist. More and more, serious issues are given more attention and gravity when an entertainer postures on issues of social importance.
An artist has an responsibility to express him- or herself with sincerity and truth. Though artists are given to idiosyncrasies, to be an artist is an honor and a responsibility.   When one speaks, it should be with done with a degree of forethought and eloquence.  
August 28th, 1963,  the date of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, six noteworthy artists met in a studio immediately after attending the march and witnessing "I Have A Dream" speech of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference's (SCLC) leader, Dr. Martin Luther King. Jr. : 
Marlon Brando
Sidney Poitier
James Baldwin
Harry Belafonte
Joseph Mankiewicz
Charlton Heston
No posturing, no antagonizing. Everything said was sincere towards bringing light and positive solutions to the truly serious issue of the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950's and 1960's.

Artists are the voices of society.   Past, present and future.  Artists can be some of the greatest forces in bringing about social change.

Drawing professor Robert Beverly Hale of The Art Students League in New York summed it up:

"We are the intellectuals, we are the artists
We are the music makers, we are the dreamers of dreams
Wandering by lone sea breakers, sitting by desolate streams
World losers and fore sakers, on whom the pale moon beams
But we are the movers and shakers of the world forever it seems
With wonderful deathless ditties we built up the world's great cities
And out of a fabulous story we fashioned an empire's glory
One man with a dream that pleasures shall go forth and conquer a crown
In tune with a new song's measure shall trample an empire down
We in the ages lying in the buried past of the earth built a Nineveh with our sighing
And Babel itself with our mirth
Then all through them with our prophesying to the old, to the New World's worth
For each age is a dream that is dying or one that is coming to birth."