by Neisha Washington
Today, millions of people around the United States and abroad celebrate one of our most legendry and visionary Civil Rights leaders, Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Although Dr. King's words and influence have had a lasting impact on the social and cultural fabric of our country since his untimely death in 1968, it is clear that we have not yet fully realized his "dream" of America being a country where liberty, justice, and equality are realities for all of its citizens.
In the past six months alone, there have been a number of extrajudicial killings of Black men, women, and children—a heartbreaking reminder that freedom is still more of a theory than a practice. This is the message of rapper J. Cole's "Be Free," which he wrote and released in August as a tribute to the tragic death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO.
The most powerful thing about music, storytelling, art, and activism is how all of these mediums continue to inspire new ways of bringing attention to issues and lived experiences we face.
This is true of this creative video reimagining of J. Cole's "Be Free," and is a dance, poetry, and musical collaboration between three gifted young artists. The video features original poetry by well-known spoken word poet Alysia Harris, original choreography by dancer André Gary, and the chorus from the original song is soulfully crooned by singer Shaelle Etienne.
The black and white video is an earnest reminder for us to reflect on the current state of our world, as well as Dr. King's legacy… so that we make work together to create and build the future he envisioned fifty years ago.
Watch the video below and tell us what your thoughts are on the video and Dr. King's legacy in the comments!