"In a troubled world, I pray the Lord to keep, keep hatred from the mighty,
and the mighty from the small…"
- Stevie Wonder
The first picture in a young artist’s portfolio is almost always a self-portrait. Likewise, the Mo-Town musicians created their first music about what was going on in their own lives with titles like "I Can't Help Myself". As the decade progressed, these musicians focused on the larger community. Artists like Marvin Gaye turned outward and helped shape the world by asking "What’s goin’ on?"
The previous decade of the 1950’s created a culture built around the car, a nationwide interstate system, and segregation. However, it was the radio in those cars which began to change the culture of America. The 1960’s welcomed leaders like President Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. They gave soaring speeches across the airwaves of black and white television. These speeches established a goal to land on the moon by the end of the decade and asked a segregated people to "… lift our nation from the quick sands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood." All the while, it was the radio waves and the music of Berry Gordy, Smokey Robinson and Diana Ross that effectively reached across the racial divide. Their music trained the ears of all young Americans to hear our common melody – Motown. John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King Jr. and the Motown artists collectively taught us to set goals, right wrongs and "reach out" to each other.
To change a troubled world one must change the culture. It was the Motown greats who helped create the modern America. They are part of the reason segregated schools and separate water fountains are something a student today only finds in a history book about a by-gone age. It was the musicians like Stevie Wonder who lived in a crumbling society of "separate but equal" yet built a soundtrack of tolerance, justice and understanding. It was the music that changed America.
The past two weeks, students of Edison and Will Rogers Elementary learned about Motown and the "Core Four" (Work Hard, Never Give Up, Be Fit and Do Your Best). Their master teachers Alyx and Maki have taught them with excellence.
Elementary Fine Arts Coordinator
Hobbs Municipal Schools