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Dialogue of Cultures
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemorative Program
Table of Contents
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
"Through the Years"
Saturday, January 14, 1995, 2:00 p.m.
*special guest appearance and remarks by Mrs. Robinson*
Through the Years
Mrs. Amelia Boynton Robinson probably reveals more clearly than anyone else the fact that the liberation of African-American people is the business of God. Before the world knew that there was a Martin Luther King, Jr., C.T. Vivian, Andrew Young or Hosea Williams, or before a Bernard Lafayette, James Bevel, John Lewis, Marion Barry, or Diane Nash were born, Amelia was fighting illiteracy and fear in African-American people with love.
Not only did she raise the moral and intellectual standard of her people through education, in 1936, she wrote the playThrough the Yearsto further inspire the people and to raise funds to carry on the liberation struggle.
The play is really about Amelia, who in 1961 invited the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee to Selma in the persons of Bernard and Colia Lafayette to conduct a voter registration drive.
When it became clear that voter registration was not possible, Amelia, in 1964, invited the Southern Christian Leadership Conference to conduct its Alabama Right to Vote Campaign.
She was manhandled by Jim Clark once at the courthouse, beaten by Al Lingo on Bloody Sunday (March 7, 1965), and today she stands tall, still fighting for scientific education and a just economic policy that is in keeping with Christian and constitutional principles.
To those who think the movement ended at the death of Dr. King, please be informed that the movement is God's business. And it is God, working through Amelia, and those who join her, who will get us to the Promised Land that King spoke of the night before his ascendancy.
So let me thank Amelia and let me thank the Schiller Institute, Howard University, and you who have come to join God and Amelia in continuing the struggle to liberate all people.
The Rev. James L. Bevel
THROUGH THE YEARS was written in 1936 by civil rights activist Amelia Boynton Robinson, as a means to uplift the rural African-American populace of Alabama. It helped to raise money, during the Great Depression, to build a community center in then-racially secregated Selma. THROUGH THE YEARS tells the fictional story of Joshua Terrell, who, like the statesman Frederick Douglass, and Mrs. Robinson's own ancestor, Reconstruction Congressman Robert Smalls, overcomes the adverse circumstances of birth as a slave. He learns to read, escapes on the Underground Railroad, leads a regiment of Union Army soldiers, and becomes a U.S. Congressman. Joshua's descendants become businessmen, doctors, scientists, educators and musicians. The drama uses the unaccompanied African-American Spiritual to mediate its narrative.
Amelia Platts Boynton Robinson
Amelia Robinson will, when the true history of this country is written, be recognized as one of the most important figures of twentieth-century America. From the beginning of her career as a college student working as part of the Tuskegee Institute Extension Service begun by Booker T. Washington, to her leadership of the Schiller Institute, Mrs. Robinson has been a singular influence on American life. She caused, for example, the entire American Civil Rights Movement, and eventually the world, to focus on Selma, Alabama in 1965, when the successful battle for the right of African-Americans to vote was waged, resulting in Lyndon Johnson's championing, and the U.S. Congress' passage, of the Voting Rights Act.
Although Selma had been declaredoff limitsas an organizing district by the Southern Christian Leadership Conference earlier, Amelia Robinson, with her husband, S. William Boynton, had labored for the right to vote in that area for over thirty years prior to the campaign of 1964. Upon this base, James Bevel, Bernard Lafayette, Hosea Williams and others built that campaign, which became theGettysburgof the movement. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s attention had been successfully drawn to the Selma situation by a personal plea from Mrs. Robinson, and the SCLC used her office and her home asmovement headequarters."
In March 1965, Mrs. Robinson was in the forefront of the march from Selma to Montgomery, known later asBloody Sunday,where she was brutally beaten and gassed, and left unconscious on the Edmund Pettus Bridge.
Today, she continues the fight against tyranny internationally, as the Vice Chairman of the Board of the Schiller Institute. She is also on the Board of the Martin Luther King Center for Non-Violent Social Change, and was the 1990 recipient of the Martin Luther King Freedom Medal.
The performance of the playTHROUGH THE YEARS,written by Schiller Institute Vice Chairwoman Amelia Robinson in 1936, gives us the opportunity to more intimately acquaint today's audience with the fundamental goals of the Schiller Institute. The Institute, which is known for its human rights activity throughout the world, and which is active in more than thirty nations, is named after the great Poet of Freedom, Friedrich Schiller. That designation, however, is not ceremonial. The Institute has operated with the profound belief, that it is only through the aesthetic education of the emotions of mankind, that it is possible for the human race to be morally advanced at a rate outpacing mankind's potential technological advance.
Martin Luther King's insistence on the use of creative non-violence as the major weapon of social transformation in twentieth-century America, directly echoes Schiller's exhortation, that only through the Beautiful would mankind truly be free. For what is more beautiful, than that the most ordinary of men, who are unjustly oppressed by their conditions of life, over which they have no control, would offer their lives in the interest of the true exercise of their inalienable rights? What is more beautiful that that these ordinary men would exercise these rights which are not only guaranteed to them by God, but, precisely because they are God-given, must be exercised in the name of the Divinity of man?
Schiller refers to the soul that morally supports and acts on behalf of this concept, as the beautiful soul. Schiller also states, in his essay entitledOn The Sublime,thatnothing (is) so unworthy of man as to suffer violence, for violence annuls him. Who does it to us, disputes nothing less than our humanity; who suffers it in a cowardly manner, throws away his humanity."
King's notion of creative non-violence was not one of cowardice, but of the exercise of precisely the quality that Schiller refers to asthe sublime":(T)he method of nonviolence ... not only avoids external physical violence, but also internal violence of spirit. At the center of nonviolence stands the principle of love....
"In speaking of love, I am not referring to some sentimental and affectionate emotion. It would be nonsense to urge men to love their oppressors in an affectionate sense. Love in this connection means understanding good will as expressed in the Greek word agape ... it means understanding, redeeming good will for all men, an ever-owing love which seeks nothing in return. It is spontaneous, unmotivated, groundless, and creative.(emphasis added)
In Selma, 1964-65, one of the greatest acts in the drama of the Civil Rights Movement, and, in fact, in all of American history, was enacted. Amelia Boynton Robinson, who, together with her husband, the late William oynton, had fought for over thirty years for the enfranchisement of African-Americans in Dallas County, Alabama, successfully convinced Dr. King and the workers of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, to carry out what became known as the Selma Right to Vote Campaign. Mrs. Robinson would, through her direct suffering of violence at the hands of Sheriff Jim Clark and other representatives of the unreconstructed Confederate elements of the South (and outside the South), galvanize the nation, and its President, to do that for which she and countless others had workedthrough the years."
James M. Washington, editor of A Testament of Hope: The Essential Writings and Speeches of Martin Luther King Jr.,informs us thatDespite the unmerciful beating of the Reverend James Bevel and the murder of Jimmie Lee Jackson, Clark denied King the drama he needed to accent the painful reality of black disenfranchisement.... President Lyndon Baines Johnson, FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, and many others, tried to pressure King to be 'reasonable.'When Sheriff Jim Clark, however, made the mistake of brutally manhandling Amelia Robinson as she sought to support civil rights workers and other assembled to demand the vote, photographers captured the scene. The New York Times and other media captured the scene. The nation was shocked and outraged. Its conscience was aroused.
When, days later, Mrs. Robinson would be beaten and left for dead on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in the famousBloody Sundaymarch of March 7, the memory of that earlier beating by Sheriff Clark would return. Further, the news coverage of the beatings on the bridge would also interrupt the showing of a movie,Judgement at Nuremburg,on one of the major television networks. Within twenty-four hours, between 700 and 1,000 Americans from all over the United States would journey to Selma to stand side by side with Mrs. Robinson and the other (only) several hundred marchers, and, if necessary, to be beaten with them. Some, such as the Rev. James Reeb, and Viola Liuzzo, both white, would not leave Alabama alive.
In the mind of America that day, thedrama of timewould combine with thedrama of the ideal.The words of the fourth epistle of Schiller'sOn the Aesthetic Education Of Mancome to mind:Every individual man ... carries ... a purely ideal man within himself. This pure man ... is represented through the state.... Now, however, let two different ways be considered, how the man in time can coincide with the man in the idea, how the state can maintain itself in the individual."
Schiller informs us that there are two different ways that man might accomplish thisgreat task of his existence"--a task that Dr. King, and his collaborators, took as their personal responsibility.[E]ither ... the pure man suppresses the individual, ... the state abolishes the individual, or ... that the individual becomes the state, that the man ennobles himself to the man of the idea."
When King would respond, in his remarks to those thousands of marchers who would join him after Bloody Sunday, at the Montgomery State House (only a few hundred yards from the Dexter Avenue Church from which King had launched the 1956 Montgomery Bus Boycott, and the site of the inauguration of Jefferson Davis as the President of the treasonous Confederacy), to the challenge of reactionary violence to the Declaration of Independence, on the 25th of March, he would speak, not only for the disenfranchised African-American, not only for the disenfranchised white Southern American, but for the ennoblement ofman as man":
"The threat of the free exercise of the ballot by the Negro and the white masses alike resulted in the establishing of a segregated society. They segregated Southern money from the poor whites; they segregated Southern mores from the rich whites; they segregated Southern churches from Christianity; they segregated Southern minds from honest thinking, and they segregated the Negro from everything....
"Our aim must never be to defeat or humiliate the white man but to win his friendship and understanding. We must come to see that the end we seek is a society at peace with itself, a society that can live with its conscience. That will be a day not of the white man, not of the black man. That will be the day of man as man...."
Ironically, it was the revolutionary state legislatures of the South, that had most efficiently acted to institutionalize the Declaration of Independence. Almost every one of those legislatures that met in 1868-72 began its document by citing the Declaration as its basis. These legislatures established Homestead Acts, which primarily protected the rights of otherwise-disenfranchised white farmers. They established public education for the first time in the South, which primarily benefitted the poor white populations. They established the right to vote for men over twenty-one, and in the case of the (predominantly African-American) South Carolina legislature, debated that right for women as well.
Even after the Ku Klux Klan would successfully assassinate scores of legislators, black and white, in 1868-69; even after the Hayes-Tilden Compromise of 1876 would betray the spirit of Reconstruction; even after theWatergatingof the South Carolina legislature, the burning-out of the Mississippi legislature, and the military overthrow of the Florida legislature by General Meade'sUniontroops (who were sworn to defend, not depose, it), Southerners would live under the laws passed by these legislatures for decades. Prior to King, and the Civil Rights Movement, 1868-76 was the finest hour for constitutional government, and the Declaration of Independence, in the history of our nation.
The nagging problem as to why Reconstruction did not succeed, after the death of Lincoln, is this: that what Schiller had sought to accomplish in Europe, the ennoblement of the soul of his fellow citizens, such that man might becomegreater than his destiny,through the creation of a noble school of Drama and Art, was not accomplished in America. The Civil War veteran, though a better man than before the war, was not a good enough citizen of the Declaration of Independence to represent the inalienable rights of all men. It would be left to Martin Luther King, and Amelia Robinson, to initiate this.
Hence, it isaltogether fitting and properthat Mrs. Robinson, the author ofThrough the Years,should have successfully used drama, as early as 1936, to capture exactly this ennoblement of the soul, exactly by telling the story of the transcendance of slavery by the African-American, and his triumph in the halls of Congress, science and the arts, as her own ancestors, such as the Congressman Robert Smalls, actually accomplished. Her deployment of the African-American Spiritual on behalf of this task, is brilliant, precisely because it is also so obvious. For it is in the well-spring of the African-American Spiritual that America's only fundamental positive contribution to world culture exists. It is in the well-spring of the African-American Spiritual, that Christianity in America is uniquely contained--if we mean by that the Christianity actually taught by Jesus Christ. As King said in a 1965 interview,The essence of the Epistles of Paul is that Christians should rejoice at being deemed worthy to suffer for what they believe. The projection of a social gospel, in my opinion, is the true witness of a Christian life. This is the meaning of the true ekklesia--the inner, spiritual church."
It was the poetry of the Declaration of Independence, and of the African-American Spirituals, that King would constantly utilize in his public utterances. And, it was to the principle of drama that King would appeal, in his orchestration of the social-drama of the nonviolent movement, which would move the conscience of the nation, despite itself. As the poet, Solon of Athens, had constucted the Athenian Constitution to abolish usurious debt and slavery, by writing that constitution as a poem that criticized the tragic behavior of the Athenian people, so King constucted his nonviolent actions on a dramatic principle, tohold up the mirrorto America's own self-destructive nature.
With respect to Selma, King delineated his dramatic method:
"The goal of the demonstrators in Selma, as elsewhere, is to dramatize the existence of injustice and to bring about the presence of justice by means of nonviolence.
1. Nonviolent demonstrators go into the streets to exercise their constitutional rights.
2. Racists resist by unleashing violence on them.
3. Americans of conscience in the name of decency demand federal intervention and legislation.
4. The administration, under mass pressure, initiates measures of immediate intervention and remedial legislation."
Thus, not only was government moved; government was made. Enfranchisement was not proposed; enfranchisement was achieved. Citizenship was not exercised; citizenship was ennobled. Inferiority was not denounced; inferiority was abolished.
This, as Schiller, knew, could only be achieved through the use of an aesthetic principle:
"One noteworthy class of men has special grounds for giving particular thanks to the stage. Only here do the world's mighty men hear what they never or rarely hear elsewhere: Truth. And here they see what they never or rarely see: Man.... Here in this lofty sphere, the great mind, the fiery patriot first discovers how he can fully wield its powers.
"Such a person lets all previous generations pass in review, weighing nation against nation, century against century, and finds how slavishly the great majority of the people are ever languishing in the chains of prejudice and opinion, which eternally foil their strivings for happiness; he finds that the pure radiance of truth illumines only a few isolated minds..... By what means, then, can the wise legislator induce the entire nation to share in its benefits? ...
"Even industry and inventiveness could and would be imbued with fiery emotion on the stage's forum, if our poets ever deemed it worth their while to be patriots, and if the state would ever condescend to listen to them."
Martin Luther King, and Amelia Boynton Robinson, have both fulfilled Schiller's exhortation that there be poets who would deem it worth their while to be patriots. That is why we honor and praise them, and why their work will never fail to move us, so long as we value our humanity. Our ability to rejoice in their achievements, and to be so moved by them, is the power within us that can move governments, that can invent amore perfect union.That is the power through which Nature, and Nature's God, speak to us of ourselves.
--Dennis Speed, Northeast Coordinator, Schiller Institute
Union Army Regiment:
Plantation and Classroom Scenes:
Schiller Institute Community Choir Diane Sare, Director
Sopranos: *Monica Spencer, *Felecia Stovall-Cooper, *Kathy Wolfe, JoAnne Banks, Avon Braxton, Juanita Cunningham, Queenie Gleaton, Judy Hodgkiss, Madeleine Therrien, Darnisha Valentine, Debbie Valentine, Grace Hawkins, Wilhelmina Wooten-Thomas, Janette Wright
Altos: Beatrice Campbell, Rose Coleman, Patricia Eubanks, Gwen Gantt, Frances Hayward, Eva McLeod, Deborah Sims, Linda Hustun, Peggy McCoo
Tenors: *James Cokley, *John Sigerson, Davaughn Howard, Clifton Prophet, Bernard Robinson, Gerald Therrien, Morgen Hall
Basses: *Leonard Higgs, *Vincent Pope, *Cal Smith, Joel McLeod, Clifton McMullen, Hugh McNeil, Christopher Sare
*denotes soloists and section leaders
SPECIAL THANKS TO:
Sylvia Olden Lee for her expertise and assistance with the choir.
The professional singers who have been so generous with their time and talent: Monica Spencer, Felecia Stovall-Cooper, Vincent Pope, and Leonard Higgs.
Colonel Edwards and Sergeant Mooney of the Eastern High School ROTC.
The Schiller Institute around the world is working to defend the rights of all humanity to progress--material, moral and intellectual. It is named after Friedrich Schiller, the great 18th-century German poet and playwright, whose works have inspired republican opposition to oligarchic tyranny around the world.
The Institute was founded in May 1984 and today has national organizations in the United States and Canada, in most of the nations of Europe (East and West) and Ibero-America, and in Russia, Australia, Thailand, India and Japan. Mrs. Helga Zepp-LaRouche, the founder of the Schiller Institute, is also Chairman of its Board of Directors in the United States. A German citizen, Mrs. Zepp-LaRouche is wife of Lyndon LaRouche, statesman and economist, who, with his wife, is a true citizen of the world, in Schiller's sense.
As part of its founding documents, in November 1984 the Schiller Institute adopted aDeclaration of the Inalienable Rights of Man,based, as Helga Zepp-LaRouche told the press Nov. 26, 1984, on the U.S. Declaration of Independence, with only a few changes introduced to take into account different particular features of the struggle for human freedom and dignity today.So truly,she said at that time,the inalienable rights movement is a return to the spirit of the Founding Fathers."
The Declaration includes the following words:The history of the present international financial institutions is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute tyranny over these states. To prove this let facts be submitted to a candid world. They have refused their assent to our plans of development, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good. They have forbidden their banks to engage in business of immediate and pressing importance for us, and in equal terms.... They have overthrown legitimate governments repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness their invasions on the rights of the people.... We, therefore, Representatives of the Peoples of the world, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world, do ... solemnly publish and declare that all countries of the world are and of right ought to be free and independent States. That all human beings on this planet have inalienable rights, which guarantee them life, freedom, material conditions worthy of man, and the right to develop fully all potentialities of their intellect and their souls. That, therefore, a change in the present economic and monetary order is necessary and urgent to establish justice among the peoples of the world."
This statement remains today the basis of the Institute's work and efforts worldwide.
Accomplishments in the Music Field
The Schiller Institute has become known internationally for its initiative to lower the international standard musical pitch to C = 256 Hz (A = 432), in order to preserve the human voice and return the performance of Classical music to the pitch for which it was written. The Institute's 1992 publication of A Manual on the Rudiments of Tuning and Registration, Vol. I, Introduction and Human Singing Voice, is creating an educated leadership in the music world to return the pitch to that for which all the great Classical music was written--known as theVerdi pitch"--and to save the human voice.
No less than a revolution in musical history was unleashed on April 9, 1988 in Milan, Italy, when the Schiller Institute brought together some of the world's most highly regarded Classical singers and instrumentalists, to demand a return to rationality in musical tuning and performance. At a conference held at the Casa Giuseppe Verdi, conference speakers, including Lyndon H. LaRouche, Jr., who had conceived the initiative, called for an end to the high-pitched tuning, which has been literally destroying all but the most gifted voices during the past century, and for a return to the principles of Classical aesthetics, according to which the process of musical composition is just as lawful as are the orbits of the planets in the solar system.
To underline this call, the conference resolved to introduce legislation into the Italian parliament which would require a return to the natural tuning at which middle-C equals precisely 256 cycles per second--significantly lower than the current tuning which sets A at 440 cps, or frequently even higher (see details at end of this program).
Though the legislation was ultimately defeated in the Italian parliament, the Institute's work in this regard has continued to radiate internationally since 1988, affecting virtually every major musical institution and performer worldwide.
To maintain the offensive, the Schiller Institute invited world-acclaimed tenor Carlo Bergonzi to present the Manual on Tuning and Registration at a master class on the pitch at Weill Recital Hall of Carnegie Hall on April 8, 1993. Using two grand pianos, at modern A = 442 and at Verdi's A = 432, Bergonzi demonstrated the superiority of the classical Verdi pitch to hundreds of New York's top voice teachers and singers. The Institute regularly sponsors concerts and musical demonstrations at the lower pitch, featuring such major performers as Norbert Brainin, former lead violinist of the Amadeus Quartet, and Italian baritone Piero Cappuccilli. In March 1993, Dr. Brainin toured the U.S. in concerts in memory of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., on the 25th anniversary of his assassination.
During 1993-94, the Institute sponsored several memorial concerts for the legendary artist Marian Anderson throughout the U.S. In September of 1994, the Institute co-sponsored an eight-city concert tour of Germany and France, in conjunction with the German Civil Rights Movement Solidarity, in honor of Ms. Anderson.
In May 1994, the Institute sponsored a major concert and conference at Howard University, which launched a National Conservatory of Music Movement, modelled on the initiative begun 100 years ago by Janet Thurber and Antonin Dvorak, to create agreat and noble school of classical composition, based on the African-American Spiritual.Several renowned artists, including George Shirley, Robert McFerrin, William Warfield, Raymond Jackson, and Sylvia Olden Lee, participated in the conference.
Recently the Schiller Institute initiated a project in conjunction with the National Conservatory of Music Movement, known asExhibit A.The core ofExhibit Ais a program of classical literacy, based on the teaching of poetry, drama and music to children. The Institute is currently staging several works-in-progress performances ofThrough the Years,the musical drama written by Schiller Institute Vice Chairman Amelia Boynton Robinson, as part ofExhibit A.Over fifty children, ages 4 to 17, from throughout the D.C. area, have been involved in the performances to date. The Institute hopes that thousands of children will be inspired to participate in the play, in the several performances which are projected for February during African-American History Month and beyond. The Institute is also in the process of preparing a pictorial exhibit onThe Classical Tradition of the African-American in Politics and Art, 1790-1995."
To schedule performances, lectures, exhibits or slide shows for your church, school or organization, please call the Schiller Institute at 202-544-7018.
The Schiller Institute launched a worldwide campaign in 1988 to lower the international standard pitch to theVerdipitch of middle C = 256 Hz (A = 432). A petition (see next page) urging the Italian parliament to lower the pitch, was endorsed by thousands of artists worldwide, including the following leading musicians:
This petition, in the form of draft legislation, was presented to the Italian Parliament in July 1988 by Senators Mezzapesa (second from left) and Boggio (far right, next to Italian tenor Piero Cappucilli), pictured here at the press conference where they announced the bill's introduction. While sabotaged by the Italian Communist Party, thousands worldwide have signed the petition.
If you wish to sign this petition, calling for the standard pitch to be lowered to A = 432/C = 256, please fill out the form below, detach it from the program, and return it to:
Schiller Institute, Inc., Music Department
P.O. Box 20244, Washington, D.C. 20041-0244.
Petition to Lower Standard Pitch
Lift ev'ry voice and sing, till earth and heaven ring,
Sing a song full of the faith that the dark path has taught us,
In the days when hope unborn had died;
Out from the gloomy past, till now we stand at last
Keep us forever in the path, we pray.
And when this happens, when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro Spiritual: Free at last, free at last, thank God Almighty, we're free at last.''
The Schiller Institute
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