YES, WE HAVE A VOICE, and our sounds are filled with hope and love.

Ever since civilization began to make markings on the stone walls of caves, the arts have served as a powerful force for awareness and change. As music impacts the mood of a room, the sound of millions of voices can impact an entire nation and engender a hunger for truth. This, of course, is a factor which any despot or impending enemy of a people will always recognize and strive to silence. Simply recognizing the need for creative freedom affects the mindset of those who are under absolute rule, and it cannot be allowed to persist if absolute control is to continue.

This is a tactic the Third Reich depended on as it reshaped the feelings, emotions, and self-image of the German people during the 1930s. The power of creative expression, with the freedom inherent to it, was a threat they could not ignore. Remember that Hamlet used actors not only to make his point concerning the murder of his father, the king, but also to test the conscience of the murderer who had thus seized power. Throughout history, the arts (e.g. music, dance, theatre, visual art) have been used to symbolically represent those without power as well as their hunger for truth, their need to be heard, and their deep desire for change.

"The arts evoke emotions, ideas, and perspectives which can challenge society at every turn."

Are we any different today? Think of all the films and theatrical works which represent our hopes and dreams. The arts evoke emotions, ideas, and perspectives which can challenge society at every turn. Hollywood is always under the gun from politicians who feel the threat of being questioned or of being exposed. Composers, from Chopin to Mozart to Grieg, were often confronted and many were forced to leave their native countries in order to experience the freedom of artistic expression. So many brilliant creative contributors have had to rise and resist in order to be heard. 

Author Richard Wright gave us Black Boy.Playwright Lorraine Hansberry delivered Raisin in the Sun. Poet Paul Laurence Dunbar cried out in “We Wear the Mask.” Each of them gave voice to painful experiences and a powerful spirit, illuminating the struggle for survival in the face of racism and a fear of change. Marian Anderson was refused an appearance in Constitution Hall but, with the support of Eleanor Roosevelt, made her appearance in front of the Lincoln Memorial. Paul Robeson sang about freedom in “Ballad for Americans.” They represent the power of the arts, always serving as a threat to ignorance and bigotry and to the concepts and methods of mass political control.

All of us who have a passion for music, theatre, film, poetry, dance, painting, and every form of creative expression must not forget that we, too, represent an inherent need for positive change which society hangs on for survival. We have a voice, and we will not be silenced.

Los Angeles, CA