CIAM Statement on Systematic Racism and the Urgency for Global Change

"It is certain, in any case, that ignorance, allied with power, is the most ferocious enemy justice can have.”

James Baldwin, 1972

Dear Music Creators, Friends and Colleagues,

"Ignorance allied with power” has long brought enormous pain and destruction to the lives of innocent people of color, but in recent days it has been more savagely plain for all of us to see than ever before.

As image after shocking image of ferocious force and brutality has assaulted us, one thing has become crystal clear: It is long past time for people of good will to unite and do all we can to end the long reign of ignorance and abuse. It is not enough to hope for a world where systematic racism no longer chokes the life of our fellow human beings. It is time we brought this terrible chapter to its end.

There will be much discussion, planning and mobilization in the weeks and months ahead about the actions we must take, the efforts we must make, and how we ensure the just conclusion we seek. As individuals who live and work in many parts of the world, we each must determine what we can do in our community, in our country to move justice forward. As someone who lives in Nashville Tennessee, I know how long and steep the path here has been, and I reaffirm my commitment to doing all I personally can – and must do – here in the US to contribute to the cause.

And as music creators there is another important role we can play.

Courageous songwriters and performers have long stood up to ignorance, injustice and the clenched fist of power as anyone who has listened to Odetta, Nina Simone or Paul Robson will know – not to mention Woody Guthrie, Bob Dylan and Pete Seeger.

Music is our power. It has served as a torch to help lead us out of the darkness before, and it can do so again. Here’s to a new generation of great songwriters and composers whose socially aware words and music may finally inspire us the rest of the way to the dignity, freedom and equality every human being on this earth deserves.

Eddie Schwartz
President, CIAM