Dr. King operated in the zone of public life that marks humanity at its best: he encouraged us to imagine the world a little bit different than it was, a little bit better. And he asked us to have the courage and perseverance to make that world a reality.
This, to me, is the intersection of art and politics that makes art politically relevant: art, in my view, is the arbitrary illumination of experience, and artists present a view of life that's different from the way we've imagined it previously. Maybe a little bit different, maybe a lot, but to experience art is to engage imagination, to suspend disbelief, to observe the world from some new angle. Like visionaries in political life, artistic vision asks us to imagine the potential for change, to expand our consciousness to include something we didn't picture before.
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I've often been struck by the musicality of Dr. King's voice. Part of his oration's persuasiveness, I think, was its hypnotically melodic quality. Who knows how much of that melody is preserved in the auto-tuned rendition of King's "I have a dream" speech below, but I enjoy this video regardless.
Happy MLK Day!