BIPOC Voices, Music, News & Events

Motown Records relaunches Black Forum label in everlasting fight for Equality

With spoken word albums from MLK, Langston Hughes and others.

words by: Kai Acevedo
Mar 11, 2021

“I could never again raise my voice against the violence of the oppressed in the ghettos without first having spoken clearly to the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today: my own government” —Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, Why I Oppose The War In Vietnam.


As always, a few things from the old school are back in style. The trendy hairstyles and fashions of yesteryear aren’t the only things from the past that are popular now, however. The recent resurgence in things like white supremacy, police brutality, conspiracy theories, antisemitism, hate crimes against Asians, domestic terrorism and extremism is reminiscent of the vibes that sparked the civil rights movement. America’s current racial and political awakenings have made it worthwhile to revisit the wise words of political and thought leaders like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, poet and novelist Langston Hughes, civil rights activist Stokely Carmichael, acting legend Ossie Davis and others. Speeches, pieces of poetry and spoken word projects from some of the most recognizable voices in the country’s seemingly everlasting fight for equality will once again be available with the relaunch of Motown Records’ Black Forum label.



The brainchild of Berry Gordy, Black Forum was created in 1971 as a platform for Black voices to get their messages across. The first project re-released on the Motown sub-label will be Dr. King’s Why I Oppose The War In Vietnam. The recording was taken from an at-the-time controversial anti-war speech he gave in 1967 during a visit to Atlanta’s Ebenezer Baptist Church. In 1971, the award-winning Why I Oppose The War In Vietnam took home a Grammy Award for Best Spoken Word Album. Stokely Carmichael’s Free Huey, Ossie Davis’ famous Congressional Black Caucus speech and Writers Of The Revolution by Langston Hughes and Margaret Danner are also being reissued via Black Forum later this year.


“The label provided a clear-cut reflection of who America was at the time of civil unrest in the 60s and 70s. Now, we look to extend and expound on the original principles and purpose of Black Forum,” said Motown Records’ President Ethiopia Habtemariam.


Black Forum is also expected to play a role in spreading the words and knowledge of current and future leaders. The imprint will curate programs, develop podcasts and produce events with collaborators such as the Motown Museum that continue important and timely conversations. Learn more about Black Forum here and also look out for new releases from the legendary label.