In the light of justice

I have been incorporating songwriting into my day job in every and any way that I can this past year and a half. Recently, the word went out through the National Park Service for park sites to find creative ways to commemorate the 1963 March on Washington for the 50th anniversary.

1894 FD Speech

In a conversation with a coworker, I remembered that Frederick Douglass had spoken in lowell on several occasions before and after the Civil War. Perhaps, there was a song to be found in his words.

My coworker found his historic speech from 1894, which he gave in the First Congregational Church, a building in downtown Lowell that is now empty and abandoned, a silent relic of Lowell’s past.

I pored over the words of Douglass’ speech on digital microfiche, taking screen shots page by page. I studied each image, typing phrases and words that seemed to possess song potential.

dark and story-1894 speech text

Slowly, a theme began to arise. Justice and hope in the wake of despair.

Below is a music video that a coworker put together after capturing footage of all our staff singing together and myself and a fiddler on staff performing the song in the very building where Douglass spoke so many years ago.

I continue to perform this song wherever I find myself in the world each year on Martin Luther King Day.

Brussels, Belgium

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