Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Intellectual Property, and Us
By Nordette Adams on January 17, 2011
This MLK day, I am sharing a public radio broadcast I heard on WWNO in New Orleans Saturday, "Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the Public Imagination."
Its producers at On the Media describe the show as follows:
"On August 28, 1963 Martin Luther King Jr. did what he’d done countless times before, he began building a sermon. And in his sermons King relied on improvisation - drawing on sources and references that were limited only by his imagination and memory. It’s a gift – and a tradition - on full display in the 'I Have A Dream' speech but it’s also in conflict with the intellectual property laws that have been strenuously used by his estate since his death. OTM producer Jamie York speaks with Drew Hansen, Keith Miller, Michael Eric Dyson and Lewis Hyde about King, imagination and the consequences of limiting access to art and ideas."
The show, which I've embedded in this post, is packed with information about how King built his speeches and sermons, borrowing from numerous references and other preachers--a common practice. It's of particular interest to me because I've been studying notions of authors and authorship in rhetoric and writing lately.
NPR has an excellent database of the Civil Rights leader's speeches and its shows about King over the years. Once you get started listening, it's hard to stop.
Over at my Martin Luther King page at WritingJunkie.net, since its initial publication in 2004, I've always seen hits go up starting around the beginning of December and they continue until mid-April. Many of the visitors are looking for my poem "Remembering a Life," and Google or some other search engine sends them to that page. The poem has been used at public celebrations by various speakers and recited by school children. So, I don't say much new on MLK day usually because I've said what I have to say for now. Happy Martin Luther King Day to all.