When the Amoeblog last caught up with Denise Sullivan in September 2011 it was to have an in-depth discussion with the Northern California author about her then recently published book Black Power Music (From Blues To Hip-Hop). At that time the Crawdaddy columnist and self-described "record geek" discussed her engaging book that effortlessly intertwines American history of the past numerous decades. The book nicely covers a wide range of protest/revolutionary music from early folk-blues, through the musical soundtrack of the civil rights movement (soul/funk/rock), and up to the contemporary hip-hop protest music. In that earlier Amoeblog interview Sullivan discussed many things including how she went from writing a book on the White Stripes to a book on Black Power Music. "Matters of race and the sexes, the Great Migration, what was once called the "American Dream," industry, ingenuity, and the entire great American songbook are of deep interest to me and all are tied up in the White Stripes story," she said at the time. "Keep on Pushing is a similar story, only it has a lot more people (many of them black, others are Native American, women, or economically strapped, most all of them are trying to survive America), and music is big part of their toolkit. Specifically though, in the case of both books, it was fine art photography that initially inspired me to launch my investigations: American Ruins by Camilo Jose Vergara, and The Black Panthers by Stephen Shames."
Today the USA celebrates Martin Luther King Jr. Day. (1929-1968). As we all know, Dr. King preached nonviolent activism in the global civil rights movement. Ironically, the other two persons honored with national holidays are Christopher Columbus and George Washington, two powerful slaveowners who advocated (and in Washington's case, waged) genocidal violence against people who fought for their civil rights.
Calls for the creation of Martin Luther King Jr. Day began almost as soon as King was assassinated in 1968 but it wasn't until 1983 that president Ronald Reagan signed it into law, over the objections of vocal opponents including Senator Jesse Helms and then-Arizona Congressman John McCain -- primarily over King's objections to the US's bloody invasion of Vietnam.
Outside of the US, the holiday is observed in Hiroshima, Toronto and probably elsewhere. But let's not get it twisted, his principles of nonviolence, as well as those of Henry David Thoreau and Mahatma Gandhi before him, were not merely calls to pacifism -- silently accepting the rule and direction of those in power. On the contrary, they were calls to action.
Today, one of the most articulate (if not loudest) voice on behalf of the civil rights deprived of the world's indigenous peoples, minorities, and unrecognised or occupied territories is UNPO, or, the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization. The idea was conceived by Tibetan activist Tsering Jampa and Uyghur activist Erkin Alptekin, who were dismayed by blood-lusting global media's single-minded focus on violent struggles for independence such as have characterized Palestine's fruitless struggle through 65 years of occupation.