An obscure bit of Motown Records' history is coming back to life this month.
The label, now based in Los Angeles, is partnering with the Motown Museum to resurrect the Black Forum spoken word label, which was active from 1970-73. The first release will be Dr. Martin Luther King's "Why I Oppose the War in Vietnam" on Feb. 26, with subsequent reissues of albums by Stokely Carmichael, Langston Hughes & Margaret Danner and the collections "Guess Who's Coming Home: Black fighting Men Recorded Live in Vietnam" and "Black Spirits: Festival of New Black Poets in America."
Black Forum is also planning to "spark candid conversations to mold and inspire the next generation of 'game changers'" with podcast community forums, digital programs and events at the Motown Museum.
In a statement, Motown Records President Ethiopia Habtemariam said, “As we navigate our way through unprecedented times, racial and social tensions are at a high. We felt an urgent need to reactivate Black Forum in order to provide information alongside inspiration. 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.”
Robin Terry, the Motown Museum's chairwoman and CEO, added, We are delighted to collaborate with our partner Motown Records for the relaunch of this iconic label and the yearlong programming around Black Forum. Storytelling, education and the power of shared experience is a vital part of Motown Museum’s DNA. The rich heritage of the Black Forum label has long been an important chapter in the continuing story of Motown.”
In conjunction with Black Forum's return, the museum is seeking submissions for its eighth annual Motown MIC program and competition at motownmuseum.org/programs/motown-mic/.