A Knee on the Neck

(E) “A Knee on the Neck:

Do what they tell you because

they are the law, at that moment

not what you believe to be true.

Swallow your pride if any is in you

that rises up at that moment.

Adolphus Hailstork‘s A Knee on the Neck: A Small Requiem for Black Men and Women, opens with these verses of poetry by Herbert Woodward Martin subtitled” A Black Monther’s commandment.” The imperatives presented in this text were reiterated even by President Biden in his recent State of the Union address in which he said, “I’ve never had to have the talk with my children – Beau, Hunter, and Ashley – that so many Black and Brown families have had with their children” The context-setting in Martin’s verses has, sadly and tragically, been a norm for families of color in this country for centuries.”

The Stanford Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Paul Phillips, played on Friday and today Sunday, the requiem “A Knee on the Neck” in its Winter Concert program.

Note 1: The initial text of this post is the program note from Stephen Sano and Eric Tuan.

Note 2: The picture above is from the concert.

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Categories: Arts