“Tell Them About the Dream, Martin.”

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

About Barbara McAfee

Barbara is a voice coach, singer/songwriter, keynote speaker, and author who merges lessons from 12 years in organization development with the transformational power of sound. Her book, Full Voice: The Art & Practice of Vocal Presence (Berrett-Koehler Publishers) was a #1 Amazon bestseller in Business Communication. The book is based on her 25 years as a voice coach, supporting people from many professions in learning how to access the full power and expression of the voice in service to their work and relationships. Barbara’s musical keynotes blend practical content, sophisticated humor, and thought-provoking questions on topics including voice, leadership, and engagement. She was “the band” for Margaret Wheatley’s Women’s Leadership Revival Tour, which visited 15 North American cities. She also appears with authors Parker Palmer and Peter Block. Barbara has produced seven CD's of mostly original music and is founder of the Morning Star Singers, a volunteer hospice choir in the Twin Cities. She lives across the street from the Mississippi River in Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA.
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