The Songs That Shaped 'I Have A Dream'

Jan 20, 2014

Mahalia Jackson
Credit Archives de la Ville de Montréal via Flickr Creative Commons

On August 28th, 1963, minutes before Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his landmark 'I Have a Dream' speech, gospel singer Mahalia Jackson electrified and moved the crowd with took to the stage and sang two traditional  spirituals. Our guest, Jonathan Rieder says her performance wasn’t intended only to evoke an emotional response, but also, to connect the struggle for civil rights to the fight to abolish slavery more than a century before. Jonathan’s article in The New Yorker,  called “Songs of the Slaves: The Music of M.L.K’s ‘I Have a Dream’" details how traditional black music fueled Dr. King’s ground-breaking  speech.