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Musics Integral Role In African Americans Fight for Civil Liberties

Justin Koga NHD 2012 Junior Division Website

Music is not only my greatest enjoyment, but also my clearest form of communication and expression. In 1968, during the first day of the Russian invasion of Czechoslovakia, the great Russian cellist, Mstislav Rostropovich, and the Soviet orchestra were scheduled to perform the Czech composer, Dvoraks famed cello concerto in London. He silenced the protesters both inside and outside the concert hall with his cello playing which expressed his profound sorrow for his countrys attacks on Czechoslovakia. As a musician, I find music more powerful than any other form of expression. For this years NHD, I wanted to find a topic that could musically tell a story, a type of music that had a history as well as a voice. My preliminary research led me to blues music. I had some preliminary knowledge of the origins of this music, its roots in an African American background. Through my research, I also found that this music had a history that spoke of a story of hardships and melancholy. I had no idea that blues had such a soulful past. I found that from the chains of slavery, the Great Migration northward, and the Harlem Renaissance, a music was not only formed, but also used in an oppressed peoples fight for civil liberties. I realized that the evolution of the African Americans was followed by the evolution of their music, all the way from slave music to blues, then to Jazz. I faced a major challenge when researching my topic. My information was way too broad; there was so much information to expand upon that I couldnt organize my research into clear sections. Each part of my research could have been a thesis topic and project by itself. I tried to focus my topic by separating my subject into three different categories: the reaction of slaves to slavery, the revolution of the Great Migration, and the reform of the Harlem Renaissance. Working in a group, always hinders my original ideas on a topic. There are too many compromises within the conflicting ideas between group members. I feel that working solo on this NHD project was the best decision for me because I could pursue and expand upon my own interests. I could also work at my own steady pace, without having to coordinate meetings with a group. I chose the website category because it was the best way to incorporate multimedia. Since my topic is based on a type of media, music, it would be the most interesting for me to put clips of music and videos on my website, primarily, to enhance the readers knowledge and

understanding of what my project is really about. As I moved along the line of NHD, from my school finals, to county, then to state, and finally, nationals, with the given time, I realized that my topic was something that I could pursue for the rest of my life.