While the power of a great speech of freedom thundered throughout the Washington National Mall,
delivered by the great leader Martin Luther King, Jr., these are the lesser known words that were whispered behind them. Mahalia Jackson, knows as the “Queen of Gospel” was a fellow civil rights leader, and close friend of Dr. King. While much is recorded and known about the controversy, hardship, and challenging road to obtaining equal rights for black Americans in the 1960s, and the dream Dr. King fought for, what is lesser known is the monumental shift that those simple words from Mahalia Jackson inspired.
Dr. King often delivered versions of his “I Have A Dream” speech. Yet August 28, 1963 was to be different. Mahalia, who had been invited, as many times prior, to sing her famous gospel pieces at King’s events, excitedly persuaded Dr. King to “tell them about the dream”. Though King had touched on it many times prior, this was to be the monumental moment in which he bore it all; vulnerable, frightening, honest, and risky, in a time when the black man and woman faced violence, oppression, and utter fear / hatred. Yet these simple words, from this women to this man, inspired a moment that would not only forever alter American history, but the human understanding of working for freedom.
This moment only speaks for the power of the oppressed to rise, through love and nonviolence, but also for the power of the man and woman to work together. In this illustration we see a woman who wholeheartedly believed in a man’s dream, and supported that with her full pursuit. The question arises; was it Dr. King who delivered the I Have A Dream Speech, or was this speech the echo of the thousands standing before him?
When I read this story, I am reminded of the women who have invested in me; the truth that without them; their guidance; their love; I would not be here to do the work I am doing today, or hold the heart of love I now do. Above all, I am reminded of a key and vital element of healing and recovery; unity. In a time when gender violence, sex-trafficking, and rape culture is alive and well, I am reminded, unity is the true element lacking. In my own journey of recovery, unity lacked because division seemed more rational, as unity requires trust; oneness; connection. Unity and the practices it requires, such as forgiveness, tolerance, and peaceful relations, are not the behavioral practices ascribed to at large; not by abusers, and not by victims. Yet they are vital for healing, and without them, either side remains enslaved; Abusers to their addictions and their acting out; victims to their control, fear of resistance and escape, and their own victim mentalities; while the trauma is still occurring, or even sometimes even years after the trauma has occurred.
It is here that I examine the work of Dr. King, who taught six principles of nonviolence that I can attest, as a survivor or trauma and prisoner of my own victim mentality, are pivotal points and teachings to not only treat a culture enslaved externally to patriarchal standards and social division, but dually to our internal psychological/emotional slaveries of grief, bitterness, absence of forgiveness, projection, and beyond. Though The Priceless Movement has always sided with the stance of unity, 2018 presents us at a pivotal new landscape; our team has found a unifier, through expression, and a developing concept of what manners to apply and teach this, through experiential healing. Over our prior years of study, what we cannot deny is that we have seen the power of creative expression unify otherwise impossible bonds; yet none of these has been so powerful and evident as that of dance and movement expression.
King teachings were revolutionary; they were not teachings to rescue black Americans from the grip of evil White Americans; rather, they were teachings to set all people free from the evil of division, fear, and hatred at large. King believed in change and salvation, not only for one race, but for all of mankind. It was for these foundational reasons he managed to accomplish what no one else could through war, oppressive legal reform, or diversionary procedures. It is the conviction of our team that art and expression can be utilized with the same foundational principles for a relevant impact in this modern age, on the fronts of both healing and advocacy.
Our greatest modern slavery is that of human trafficking.
Over 30 million are enslaved to its various forms. It is alive and well, and very much so in the United States, though authorities in world systems have worked tirelessly to bury it. A hard truth; yet a harder one is this; this modern day slavery will never end by rescue alone. If we do not heal the traffickers and the trafficked, the victimized and the victimizer, the abused and the abuser, the father and daughter, the mother and the son, then this evil will not end. Thus, here we have the inconvenient, uncomfortable, and even overtly offensive truth; that exploitation, not only in industry, but in human regard, does not end until we address and offer healing to both the women being victimized, as well as the men responsible for victimization. Until we recognize and respond to both as captives, none can truly be free.
For The Priceless Movement, our response is this; The Mahalia Project, a scholarly research project and corresponding documentary film project, led by The Priceless Movement Founder, Daniel V, with a B.A. in Media and Public Communication from Purdue University, who holds a background in gender studies, principles of persuasion, argumentation, and rhetorical analysis. Utilizing this specialized education and training, Daniel and a team of partnered specialists will lead the project to discover the intricacy of how Dr. King changed a social landscape with his teachings, and how those teachings can be applied to modern day slavery, both of the external forces, and well as the human mind, through creative expression and the power of unity through dance. The project will further apply these base teachings to research of the development of an immersive and experiential healing program, incorporating the elements of movement, dance, art, and additional modalities, led by the collaborative partnerships of psychological professionals and specialists from each modality field, to create an immersive experience that brings participants up against their fears; their pasts; their own fears and the recognition of those others; in a safe and controlled environment, to enable what we believe the ultimate key to healing; dual forgiveness, of both those who abused them, and above of, themselves.
And so it returns to the common bond of Mahalia JACKSON and Dr. King.
Men and women working together, understanding and forgiving one another, finding where our pains and journeys align and working to understanding the places where they don’t, through curriculum, modalities, and interactions that take from us, as victims, our false safety and security, and offers us the only thing we have longed for more: the choice to love, and be loved.
Who is Mahalia? All of us. The men and women who are done justifying their pain, their responses, and suppressing it under a regime of over-medication, emotional escape, and unsatisfying things this world offers that only leave us more empty. The men and women who are coming to know that their heart lies in a life lived for others. The men and women, the Kings and Queens, who know that some will stand before thousands to deliver a dream, while others will sit with perhaps even just one, whisper only a few vital words, and know they were the one who inspired that dream. As you read this, what stands before you? What wars are you facing? What past yet haunts you, that yet steals your future? What have you held onto that is holding you back, stealing your joy, that you would give anything to fully and finally let go of? There are many stories to be told, and many ways to tell them; yet whatever they may be, let us hold to this one thing.
We will tell them about our dream.
- Daniel V / Founder / THE PRICELESS MOVEMENT