Earlier this year, during the celebration of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King in Harlem, legendary musician Q-Tip, of a Tribe Called Quest, read the famous poem by Langston Hughes: “Let America Be America Again.” Tip acknowledges how staunch of a contrast Hughes' ideals in the poem compared to those of the United States’ current Commander-In-Chief.
“I was lucky enough to read this poem by Langston Hughes, ‘Let America Be America Again,” the Abstract Poetic told REVOLT. “The inauguration for the President, whose words are ‘Make America Great Again,’ is kinda ironic. A lot of the principles and ideas that Donald Trump ran on don’t necessarily reflect the 'dream deferred' sentiment that Langston Hughes wrote in his piece. His poem should be a reference for all of us through the next four years to see how prophetic Langston Hughes will be. It’s definitely kinda strange.”
For Q-Tip, a celebration of Dr. King was extra special. He has a connection to King that may do not know about.
“For me, it’s hard, to really emulate him,” Tip explained. “Martin Luther King is a man of so many vast achievements. It’s never overstated to talk about all the things he’s done not just for Black people, in this country, all people here and around the world. I guess for me, it’s a personal thing for me."
“My mother, as a young girl, she grew up in Montgomery Alabama,” Tip further elaborated. “She was the oldest girl out of 16 kids in the family. Her and my grandmother would go to many of the marches and the sermons that the Reverend would give there. For me, it’s a personal thing. And I look back with a little bit of melancholy but not anything that’s depressing. It’s almost like a strengthening that a man like this existed. Unfortunately, he had to have an untimely calling for many of us; [that's] how we would probably look at it. But it was probably the right time because so many things that have happened after that has gotten us here. Albeit, it may be begrudgingly or not without any struggle. It hasn’t been easy, but we are still here at this moment today. We have a great debt that we owe to him. It’s a good thing that this nation is able to recognize him for a national holiday."
This month, REVOLT TV started an initiative called “Black Excellence.” Obviously, Dr. King and Langston Hughes epitomized the phrase with all their endeavors socially, artistically, and beyond; and Q-Tip, who also personifies it, gave us insight on what his definition of Black Excellence is.
“In the 20th century, and surely into this century, a lot has been put on the value of man’s mind,” Tip analyzed. “What man has done through study and through mental investigation if you would. But there’s a lot to be said about spirit. Some things you can’t define, that an equation won’t have an answer for. [Understanding] that your intelligence will hit an eventual ceiling and you’ll have to rely on your true instinct and your spirit and intuition and feel. Spirit, intuition, and feeling are some things that Black people thrive on. That’s why we survived here for so long. Because of those things that a lot of times, they’re intangible. Something you can’t define or put words to. But it’s a feeling. It’s about faith. I feel those things are the nucleus of Black excellence.”
Watch Q-Tip, Lala Anthony, David Oyelowo, Michelle Williams and Omari Hardwick reflect on the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King on 'MLK Now' airing tonight on REVOLT TV at 8:30pm ET.