The Healing Sword is taken from a quote of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr and is intended as a brief musical glimpse into the turbulent Civil Rights movement of the 1950's and 60's. Using a combination of original material and songs from the era, it includes short spoken lines performable by band members or guest speakers.
Genre: Narrator with Band | # of Players: Standard + 1
Level: 2 | Duration: 3:30
Bb Clarinet 1
Bb Clarinet 2
Bb Clarinet 3
Bb Bass Clarinet
Eb Alto Saxophone 1
Eb Alto Saxophone 2
Bb Tenor Saxophone
Eb Baritone Saxophone
Bb Trumpet 1
Bb Trumpet 2
Bb Trumpet 3
Timpani (3 drums)
Cymbals (Crash & Suspended)
While the Civil Rights movement may seem like a weighty topic to address in the span of a four minute work for young band, I felt that it was an important one, particularly in the anniversary year of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birth date (1929). Students presently in their middle school years and younger are certainly aware of Dr. King’s legacy, but may not have any knowledge of the turbulent years which encompassed it nor of the other brave individuals who helped drive this defining movement of the 1960’s. To that end, I have attempted to provide a musical snapshot of history that I hope will inspire curious students to learn more. The title is taken from a quote of Dr. King’s:
Non-violence is a powerful and just weapon. It is a weapon unique in history,
which cuts without wounding and enobles the man who wields it. It is a sword that heals.
The two additional quotes spoken within the piece are fragments which are also taken from Dr. King’s speeches:
There comes a time when people get tired. We are here this evening to say to those who have mistreated us so long that we are tired; tired of being segregated and humiliated; tired of being kicked about by the brutal feet of oppression.
I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character
The additional names spoken are those of five major figures in the advancement of the civil rights movement, some of whom did not survive to see its conclusion.
Rosa Parks: Considered to be the woman who sparked the movement’s beginning in 1955, she did so by her refusal to give up her bus seat to a white man.
Ruby Bridges: The first African-American child to attend an all-white school in the South, she spent a year as the only student in her classroom.
Medgar Evers: Instrumental in desegregating the University of Mississippi and prosecuting injustices against African-Americans, he was murdered in his driveway in 1963.
James Meredith: the first African-American student to attend the University of Mississippi in 1962. His enrollment resulted in campus riots and necessitated the sending of U.S. Marshals and Federal troops by President Kennedy.
Viola Liuzzo: A white woman actively involved in the civil rights movement, she was murdered by the Ku Klux Klan while driving protestors home from a march.
- Jeff Jordan