During his visit to Bucknell, Ta-Nehisi Coates answered a question from a student in the audience. The student asked Coates what people could do to make a change in the world? He was specifically speaking about racism in the United States. In response to the question, Coates spoke about how people like Martin Luther King Jr. existed within a history. In history there has to be a motive or something that we cannot ignore. On an individual level, Coates said that a person should find something that he loves that makes an impact on the world or at least something that matters. Coates said that people should be prepared to accept the limits of their lives. He meant that most people would not be able to change the world. The most important thing was for a person to do what he had to do in order to be at peace with him.
During his acceptance of his Oscar for best original song, John Legend said, “Nina Simone said it’s an artist’s duty to reflect the times in which we live. We wrote this song for a film that was based on events that were 50 years ago, but we say Selma is not, because the struggle for justice is right now. We know that the voting rights, the act that they fought for 50 years ago is being compromised right now in this country today. We know that right now the struggle for freedom and justice is real. We live in the most incarcerated country in the world. There are more black men under correctional control today than were under slavery in 1850. When people are marching with our song, we want to tell you that we are with you, we see you, we love you, and march on.”
John Legend did an exceptional job at articulating the same philosophy that Ta-Nehisi Coates described when he visited Bucknell. John legend and Common both are in a fortunate place because they have the opportunity to affect large numbers of people through their art. The limits of their lives are higher than the limits of an average person’s life. However, there are people who do not have the exposure that Legend and Common have who are fighting for the same causes. In his speech, Legend articulated this as he commended the people continuing to fight for equality and justice. He recognized the people who choose to fight for something they believe in and told them that they are important and they are changing the world.
Feature Image: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/03/05/selmas-50th-anniversary-ferguson_n_6809862.html