This is one of my favorite photos of Dr. King. It’s so simple–a man not in a crowd, not standing behind a podium before thousands in our nation’s capital. Just an icon. 2008 marked the 30th year since Dr. King left us, and how fitting that as the United States that he loved so much honors his birthday, we are preparing to swear in our nation’s first African-American president.
In 1963, Bob Dylan released “Blowin’ In The Wind” as a statement to the frustrations and aspirations of the Civil Rights movement in the United States. Dylan played an active part as a voice of the rising American progressive body, touring through the South and often performing with other young, white folk artists, often from the back of pickup trucks and ramshackle stages. Artists of many genres, of many races, were so moved by “Blowin’ In The Wind” as a passionate, urgent warning shot across the bow of the American landscape that many released covers and responses. Sam Cooke’s legendary “A Change Is Gonna Come” was one of those responses, and it so encapsulates the struggles of many blacks in the 1960’s more than any other soul song of the decade. You can basically hear the pain and sweat about to break Cooke down. And though much of the song seems hopeless, Cooke pursues the light at the end of the tunnel, regardless.
No matter what side of the aisle you come from, what part of nation you hail from, tomorrow’s Presidential inauguration is a landmark moment for all of those men and women whose struggles have written the story of American yearning for justice, equality, and peace. The mere fact that a nation so divided and made up of so many puzzle pieces can come together to celebrate a new era in our society is a testament to the strength of our democracy, and the iron will of our resolve.