W elcome to another year of Justice + Art.  JusticeAid believes in justice and the power of art to bring us together in the fight for a more equitable nation and world. In this crucial election year we are continuing to support Black Voters Matter. Our Justice + Art feature each month will highlight Black artists in order to uplift those whose voices have been muted, and whose visions can help us all see ourselves as we really are, and as we could be. January’s selections are a tribute to the passionate activism and sober realism of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and to artists promoting peace domestically and globally.



Charles Henry Alston (1907-1977) was an influential American painter during the Harlem Renaissance and the first African-American supervisor for the Works Progress Administration’s Federal Art Project. Through his roles as an influential teacher and activist, he dedicated his life to the cultural enrichment, artistic advancement, and empowerment of Black Americans.

Alston’s artistic style was influenced by African motifs and the work of Mexican muralism, jazz music, and Social Realism.  His colorful, modernist painting, Walking, depicts the Montgomery bus boycott of 1955-56 and the determined actions of the mostly unrecognized women who orchestrated it.

Pictured here: Charles Henry Alston (1907–1977), Walking, 1958, oil on canvas, 48 x 64 in., © Charles Alston Estate Collection of National Museum of African American History and Culture, Gift of Sydney Smith Gordon

Alston was born in Charlotte, North Carolina and moved to New York City as a child, where he attended high school and college, earning his MFA at Columbia University. His work is in the permanent collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, and the Detroit Institute of Arts.



From his start in life as a child soldier in the war-torn region of Southern Sudan in the early 1980s, Emmanuel Jal has come through huge personal struggles to become an international hip-hop star and peace ambassador. With seven award-nominated studio albums, he has traveled the world performing and sharing his and other refugees’ stories of resilience, pain, and hope. For his outstanding commitment to peace building, he has been awarded the Vaclav Havel International Prize for Creative Dissent and the Desmond Tutu Reconciliation Award (2017) among others. More on Jal’s music and activism.

“We Want Peace,” is part of a 2010 peace campaign of the same name supported by a number of A-list stars and leaders, including George Clooney, Alicia Keys, and Kofi Annan.


Rustin (2023) is the critically acclaimed film from director George C. Wolfe, starring Colman Domingo as the unsung human rights gay activist, Bayard Rustin (1912–1987). Architect of 1963’s momentous March on Washington, Rustin challenged authority and never apologized for who he was, but was forgotten despite making history. Rustin spotlights the man who, alongside Martin Luther King Jr., dared to imagine a different world and inspired a movement. The film features an all-star cast including Chris Rock, Glynn Turman, Jeffrey Wright and Audra McDonald. More on Bayard Rustin.


This spring, 2024 Grammy nominee and Tony award winning drummer, composer, and vocalist Bryan Carter will premiere “Rustin in Renaissance,” an orchestral work and meditation on the legacy of Bayard Rustin at Lincoln Center’s Appel Theater.

Sample Carter’s music with You and I.

Suppressed Speech


Photo Illustration by Thomas Levinson/The Daily Beast/Getty

“The black revolution is much more than a struggle for the rights of Negroes. It is forcing America to face all its interrelated flaws—racism, poverty, militarism, and materialism. It is exposing evils that are deeply rooted in the whole structure of our society… and suggests that radical reconstruction of society itself is the real issue to be faced.”

—Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, “A Time to Break Silence,” 1967


A Time to Break Silence by Martin Luther King, Jr.

A Time to Break Silence presents Martin Luther King, Jr.’s most important writings and speeches in an accessible and user-friendly volume. Included are some of his most well-known classic works, including “Letter from Birmingham Jail” and “I Have a Dream,” as well as lesser-known pieces such as “The Sword that Heals” and “What Is Your Life’s Blueprint?”

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