Teach the Speech: David Molk (Performing Arts) Uses Dr. King’s Speech to Teach Music Sampling with a Social Justice Lens

MLK, Jr.

MLK, Jr.

Photo Credit: Blue Moonbeam Studio

David Molk (Performing Arts) recently published his insights on why it’s important for academia to engage students in social justice work in and out of the classroom in his article, “Ghosts in the Machine: Sampling Dr. King,” published in Sounding Out!. In the article, Molk shares how he incorporated selected speeches by Dr. King in his classroom as part of Georgetown’s Let Freedom Ring! Initiative, and the CNDLS/CSJ collaboration “Teach the Speech.” As a music professor, Molk believes “Abstract music theory is important, but music theory combined with a social awareness is vital.” Last year, for example, Molk welcomed discussion about the lack of representation for women and people of color in the music industry, and the social media movement of #GrammysSoWhite that resulted.

This past year, Molk used Dr. King’s speech as a framework for teaching students sample-based composition, and provided space for students to engage in critical discussion and to ask questions about the relationships among music, moral dilemmas, and society. He shared how he  used a recording of Dr. King delivering “I Have Been to The Mountaintop” as part of a model on sampling for his “DJing and Production” course and asked students to be creative in dissecting parts of Dr. King’s speech to create their music. The result was a deeper engagement with what Molk refers to as “crucial lines of moral inquiry,”—or, when students push beyond the surface of a particular discipline or topic and begin to consider social and cultural implications within a social justice lens. It’s work that Molk believes we all must do, particularly in academia.

You can read the rest of Molk’s article here, and also learn more about the Teach the Speech event from this January on our blog. Additionally, on Saturday, February 23 from 6:00-8:00pm in the Copley Formal Lounge, join The Center for Social Justice Research, Teaching & Service for the MLK Evening of Hope and Resistance.