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Night Lights For MLK Day: Jazz And More

Some programs and articles posted in honor of the civil-rights icon.

Martin Luther King Jr. speaking

Photo: O. Fernandez, Library of Congress

Martin Luther King Jr. speaking at a 1961 civil-rights rally.

Civil-rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. once wrote an eloquent manifesto for jazz, a music that has often been intertwined with American notions of freedom, community, and democracy. Nearly fifty years on from King’s death, it’s clear that his message and vision, like those notions mentioned above, is no museum piece to be commemorated, but rather a set of living values, with all the inherent strength and vulnerability that such a state implies. With that in mind, here are some programs and blog posts from the Night Lights archive for a holiday that should be celebrated, with all the subtle dynamics of a jazz performance, every day of the year:

We Shall Overcome: Civil-Rights Jazz

Dear Martin: Jazz Tributes To Martin Luther King Jr.

Portraits In Black: Jazz Tributes To African-American Heroes

Suite History: Jazz Composers And The African-American Odyssey

Celebrating With Duke Ellington

As a brilliant and successful composer and bandleader whose fifty-year career ran in parallel with the most significant stretch of civil-rights struggle in America, Duke Ellington did not shy from using the cultural spotlight to present, in musical form, the heritage and humanity of “My People,” as he titled one early-1960s production–just one of numerous reasons why Ellington has been the subject of Night Lights shows and blog posts on more than one occasion:

Jump For Joy: Duke Ellington’s Celebratory Musical

Swing It Loud: Duke Ellington’s Early Black-Pride Music

He, Too, Was America: Duke Ellington’s Epic Journey

Historian Michael McGerr On Ellington

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This Week On Afterglow

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The leaves are changing from green to red, the air outside is brisk and cool, and that means it’s time to look at autumn songs from the Great American Songbook.

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Afterglow is WFIU's weekly program of jazz and American popular song hosted by David Brent Johnson.

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