As we celebrate and highlight African-Americans during Black History Month, I think of Bob Marley and how he touched the world with his music. Who hasn’t been moved by him or his music? There is something magical about true artistic talent. It has the ability to transcend time, cultural and unify racial differences and divides. Everyone has a favorite Bob Marley song or, at least, knows the words to one of his many hits! His words hit your soul and the island percussion lets you escape, dream and believe.
Dave Thompson, author of Reggae and Caribbean Music, laments what he perceives to be the commercialized pacification of Marley's more militant edge, stating:
Bob Marley ranks among both the most popular and the most misunderstood figures in modern culture ...That the machine has utterly emasculated Marley is beyond doubt. Gone from the public record is the ghetto kid who dreamed of Che Guevara and the Black Panthers, and pinned their posters up in the Wailers Soul Shack record store; who believed in freedom; and the fighting which it necessitated, and dressed the part on an early album sleeve; whose heroes were James Brown and Muhammad Ali; whose God was Ras Tafari and whose sacrament was marijuana. Instead, the Bob Marley who surveys his kingdom today is smiling benevolence, a shining sun, a waving palm tree, and a string of hits which tumble out of polite radio like candy from a gumball machine. Of course it has assured his immortality. But it has also demeaned him beyond recognition. Bob Marley was worth far more.