Monday, July 4, 2016

An Essay on Words

JB - Happy Fourth of July! (pix via SW); hear also (via MF)


image (not from article) from

Thursday, June 23rd 2016
Presented at the June 23, 2016, meeting of the Broadcasting Board of Governors:
Words.  We use them so often we may not hear them, or their music.  But you at the Broadcasting Board of Governors appreciate their power.
We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
Words. Words for which people risked prison and worse, because they were more than just words.
People once traveled long distances to hear words, to hear,
Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
They came for the words and stayed for the music.  A century later, people traveled an even greater distance to hear,
[W]hen we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, “Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”
They came for the words and stayed for the music.
Every night in New York City, people pay thousands of dollars apiece to hear the Federalist Papers performed on stage -- the Federalist Papers, years ago dropped from school curricula because of insufficient interest.
Just words, but those words today power a billion-dollar Broadway hit [1]: the founding of the United States, set to music, quoting Run DMC and Jay Z.[2] 45,000 copies of the recording were sold last week, making it the third most popular music in America. [3]
Come to think of it, “of the people, by the people, for the people” has a nice beat and a catchy rhyme. Honest Abe as the Fresh Pres.
Just words. But words for which people risked prison and worse.
Many people in this building, and some in this room, once worked in newspaper or broadcast newsrooms.  The difference between working in those former jobs and working here is this:
Today and every day, just to read or listen to the words produced in this building, people risk prison and worse, precisely because they are more than just words.
Thank you.
Note 1: “‘Hamilton’ Inc.: The Path to a Billion-Dollar Broadway Show”
Note 2: Watch the Wall Street Journal video explaining the roots of the characters’ music at
Note 3:
Author: Adam Powell 

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