Panel Discussion @ Macdonald Stewart Art Centre, University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario, Canada
Friday, September 7, 2007
Ron Gaskin, moderator
Ron Gaskin of Toronto's CKLN radio station wisely allowed the conversation with poet/activist Amiri Baraka and bassist/composer William Parker to veer away from the scheduled "Future of Jazz" topic toward the more vigorous and passionate discussion of the social implications of revolutionary art. These two want a revolution and have far too much to say to be confined by polite ruminations on the future of a genre when the future of humanity itself is the prize that motivates their deeper thoughts and deeds.
The question of how to change the world emerged in several guises over the course of this discussion. And while there were no simple answers offered, Baraka and Parker never flinched at keeping the focus on reaching out toward the community with an eye toward making tangible improvements in people's lives and standing up against injustice. There was a palpable disdain for the inaction of academic theories that bordered on confrontational given the venue of this exchange and a deep sense of conviction to live by the ideals and examples of the great civil rights leaders of the 1960s. The expressive power emanating from Baraka and Parker as they spoke was consistent with the expressive impact and intention that emanates from their poetry and music.