[O]ne never entirely knows the ways of the power of art. I know a little of the framework, a little of the rational components. But when these are exhausted, art remains inexhaustible, unknowable....I remarked to Bthun that I thought Dr. Black was remarkable to be able to make the adjustment. Think of how many people who have first encountered genius in a Jew, and remained as anti-Semitic as ever they were. Worse, perhaps, since they now had cause to fear as well as to despise the object of their hatred.
He was the first genius I had ever seen. That may be a structurable part of the process that led me to the Brown case. The moment of first being, and knowing oneself to be, in the presence of genius, is a solemn moment; it is perhaps the moment of final and indelible perception of man’s utter transcendence of all else created. It is impossible to overstate the significance of a sixteen-year-old Southern boy’s seeing genius, for the first time, in a black.... [G]enius—fine control over total power, all height and depth, forever and ever? It had simply never entered my mind, for confirming or denying in conjecture, that I would see this for the first time in a black man. You don’t get over that.
Dr. Black sounds like he never really despised anyone, and the recognition thus could work its magic. The power of art is something we often discuss here, but art is also like a mustard seed. It seeks the fertile ground.
Here is the recording Dr. Black mentions. You can judge for yourself how well he judged it.
By the way, Bthun noted that today is Louis Armstrong's birthday. It is, in fact, his eleventy-first -- to borrow a phrase from another artist who has done a world of good.