We all know about the 1963 march on Washington where Martin Luther King, Jr. galvanized the multitudes with his “I Have a Dream” speech. I recently heard a story about singer Mahalia Jackson’s role in that speech. Jackson was on hand to sing two songs during that march, one of which is attached at the end of this post.
The story goes that Ms. Jackson — in her deep and powerful voice — offered words of encouragement to Dr. King from the stage behind him. “Tell them about the dream, Martin! Tell them about the dream!” Perhaps this was the most affecting song she sang that day.
I wonder how her words and her voice affected that speech. I imagine that they provided a kind of fuel for Dr. King’s oratory that day. How would that speech have been different without her presence there behind him?
I also wonder how I can be like Mahalia. To whom would I choose to offer that kind of enthusiastic support in the world. Whose voice would I like to call forth? Whose dream is worth hearing about and how can I help them tell it?
Today I celebrate all — those speaking in front and those encouraging behind — who are carrying Dr. King’s dream into the world.
Here is a link to Mahalia Jackson singing “How I Got Over” at the 1963 March on Washington. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TALcOreZi0A