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HUM FPX 1150 Assessment 1 Cultural Artifact Analysis


Capella University

HUM FPX 1150 Cultural Understanding in a Global World

Prof. Name


Cultural Artifact Analysis

Chosen Artifact

The selected artifact for analysis is the song titled “If I Can Dream,” written by Walter Earl Brown and performed by Elvis Presley in the year 1968. This choice is deeply personal as it evokes memories of my childhood, intertwined with my stepfather’s steadfast love for Elvis’s music, which I fondly recall singing along to. Recently, after watching a film, I found myself drawn to Elvis’s rendition of “If I Can Dream.” Surprisingly, this emotive and contemplative song, unlike his more lively hits such as “Hound Dog” or “Burning Love,” now resonates with me on a profound level. As an adult, I’ve come to appreciate the lyrical depth and significance of this piece.

Historical and Artistic Contexts of the Artifact

Elvis Presley was deeply impacted by the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., which occurred on April 4, 1968, just months before the release of the song. The historical context of “If I Can Dream” is deeply rooted in Dr. King Jr.’s civil rights speech, advocating for equal treatment for all individuals regardless of their race, famously delivered in his 1963 speech (King Jr., 1963). The year 1968 was tumultuous, marked by significant societal changes and the tragic assassinations of Dr. King and Senator Robert Kennedy, with Elvis’s hometown of Memphis being a focal point.

The song “If I Can Dream,” penned by Walter Brown, was born out of Elvis’s intense emotions surrounding these events. Upon hearing the song for the first time, Elvis declared, “I’m never going to sing another song I don’t believe in. I’m never going to make another picture I don’t believe in” (Genius, 2022). The performance of the song was infused with emotion, incorporating jazz and percussion instruments along with backup singers, enhancing its impact.

Cultural Values Conveyed Through the Artifact

The artifact conveys cultural values centered on the importance of human rights. Growing up in a predominantly black neighborhood, Elvis was profoundly influenced by African American blues and became a vocal advocate for breaking down racial barriers. His belief in equality is palpable in the song. Another cultural value embedded in the artifact is social awareness, as Elvis aimed to express his recognition of civil rights issues and his aspiration for equality. Personally, I resonate deeply with these values, having encountered instances of prejudiced discussions within my family. Elvis’s dedication to equality aligns with my own beliefs, despite my fortunate avoidance of extreme racism during childhood.

HUM FPX 1150 Assessment 1 Cultural Artifact Analysis

Shaping Perspectives

Cultural artifacts wield significant influence in shaping perspectives, molding our comprehension and attitudes. Actively engaging with such artifacts, deciphering meanings, and delving into historical contexts contribute to social awareness and the cultivation of cultural values. Different individuals may glean varying perspectives from the same artifact based on their upbringing and values. Before exploring this artifact in depth, it was merely another Elvis song to me. However, it has now transformed into a profound symbol, profoundly shaping my perspective and deepening my admiration for Elvis and Walter Brown for crafting such a poignant piece during a challenging period for the black community.


Genius. (2022). Elvis Presley – If I Can Dream.

Graceland. (2018, March 29). Elvis Presley’s “If I Can Dream.”

HUM FPX 1150 Assessment 1 Cultural Artifact Analysis

King Jr., M. L. (1963, August 28). I Have a Dream.

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