( ENSPIRE Entertainment ) On Monday, TV One Celebrated the Galvanizing Documentary Special Unsung Presents: Music & the Movement
ENSPIRE Contributor: Anastasia Hanna
On Monday, January 18, part one of TV One’s documentary special Unsung Presents: Music & The Movement aired at 8 P.M. ET/7C and remembered the artists and songs that provided the soundtrack to the fight for justice and equality, with part two immediately following at 9 P.M. ET/8C. The Martin Luther King Jr. Day special incorporated firsthand accounts and interviews with artists and media, coupled with archival footage from memorable speeches, soul-stirring vocal performances, and more.
The moments of Black auditory dissent featured in the special spans centuries and included themes of Black spirituals: “Swing Low Sweet Chariot,” which provided both a distraction from the harsh conditions of slavery and communication tools for the enslaved as they plotted their escape to freedom; soul and funk anthems during the Black Power movement, performed by Aretha Franklin (“Respect”) and Curtis Mayfield (“People Get Ready”), demanding an immediate change to the political landscape and that civil rights be upheld; and heart-wrenching viral music videos by young, contemporary artists like Keedron Bryant’s captivating single “I Just Want to Live,” who created rallying mixtapes for the current Black Lives Matter movement which, this past summer, saw a melting pot of cultures across the globe, which marched in solidarity to protest police brutality. The two one-hour specials served as a re-examination of the power that music has had to transform a cultural moment into a movement.
On hand to provide commentary about the new musical genre that emerged during pivotal movements in Black Americans’ tumultuous past and troubling present were Erica Campbell, Big Gipp, Raheem DeVaughn, Rev. Al Sharpton, Isaac Hayes III, Ronda Racha Penrice, Headkrack, Shante Paige, DJ Kemit, Dyana Williams, Angie Ange, Colby Colb, Rickey Vincent, Steve Ivory, Delores Thompson, Dave Washington, Billy Johnson, Jr., Kenny Gamble, P. Frank Williams, Keith Murphy, DJ Yella, Battlecat, Soren Baker, and Felicia “Poetess” Morris.