Najja K. Baptist, assistant professor of political science, published “Politics in the Key of Life: Black Music as Black Activism” in the April 2022 edition of National Review of Black Politicswhich focuses on Martin Luther King Jr. Day and how civic activism in the arts inspired a political movement to have the holiday recognized at the federal level.
Baptist, who also teaches in the university’s African and African-American studies program, said, “Black art, namely black music, embodies the most influential agent of political socialization and more ubiquitous among average citizens”.
“As Walton (1985) argues, “the political socialization of African Americans was different from that of whites and that the process has at least three stages, including resocialization as well as counter-socialization” (55). The literature literature suggests that music functions as a vehicle for the expression of black culture, public opinion, race, identity, and gender (Rose 1994; Ibrahim 1999; Bennett 2000; Bonnette 2015),” a he declared.
“Such a hypothesis may lead to critical questions regarding the relationship of black music to politics: Does black music also influence political attitudes and preferences? Can black artists engage in activism? to shape policy outcomes? asked Baptist. “If this is the case, then the influence of black music and art on political behavior appears to have been greater than Holden (1966), Walton (1985), and Walker (1991) thought,” said said Baptist.
In his study, Baptist also said he also “used descriptive textual analysis and archival material from the song ‘Happy Birthday’, written by Stevie Wonder, his subsequent touring, gathering and testimonial which helped at the passage of Dr. Martin Luther King. Junior Vacation.”
“Additionally, I explored the origins of artists who engage in activism by examining literature that connects Stevie Wonder’s efforts to black social movements,” Baptist said. “Finally, this study provides insight into the future intersection of musical genres found within the black community (e.g., rap and pop music) and social movements.”
Baptist’s article can be read in the National Review of Black Politics (2022) 3 (1-2): 33-49. A subscription may be required to access the online journal.
About Najja K. Baptist: Baptist, a Connor faculty member in 2022, has been a member of the Department of Political Science and the African and African American Studies program at the University of Arkansas since the fall of 2020. His research frequently focuses on the topic of the influence mass media, especially black entertainment, has on the American political system. Additionally, Baptist is currently traveling and establishing research teams across the country to conduct research on the impact of COVID on Black communities and how trauma shapes the experience of Black people in the United States.
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