Martin Luther King Day having come and gone Monday, this post is 24 hours late. Still, I can’t resist the chance to pass along this video, even tardily.
On the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, where King gave his “I have a dream” speech, a Jewish choral group called The Maccabeats joined with a beatbox group called Naturally7 to record the James Taylor song, “Shed a Little Light.”
The song is an homage to King. Taylor himself calls the Maccabeats/Natually7 vesion one of the best covers of the song he’s ever heard.
There was a time, before the U.S. Jewish establishment doubled down on support for Likud Party, when American Jews were White America’s strongest supporters of the civil rights movement. This is a welcome echo of that bygone era.
You can hear the entire I have a Dream speech here, although you might prefer to skip ahead to the Dream segment, which turns out to have been an on-the-fly improvisation, provoked by Mahalia Jackson.
After the speech, FBI Agent William C. Sullivan wrote a memo about King’s growing influence:
In the light of King’s powerful demagogic speech yesterday he stands head and shoulders above all other Negro leaders put together when it comes to influencing great masses of Negroes. We must mark him now, if we have not done so before, as the most dangerous Negro of the future in this Nation from the standpoint of communism, the Negro and national security.
As noted in the “About” tab of the Contrarian blog, I am, along with Ms. Jackson, one of a small number of Americans who heard King give the I have a Dream speech twice: My mother and I were at the August 1963 March on Washington; Three months earlier, in May 1963, I was at the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, where King gave a version of the speech. Fodder for a future post.
Four months after I was there, one month after King gave his iconic speech, members of the Ku Klux Klan planted at least 16 sticks of dynamite and a timing device at the church. The IED killed four young girls, Sunday school students, and injured 22 other people.
[UPDATE] From her winter home in Tampa, Florida, Jane Kansas walked to the MLK Day Parade and took lots of pictures.
Fifteenth Street is a wide residential street with bungalows in big swept yards with big barbeques being fired up. The parade starts on time and the participants and floats are laden with many tens of thousands of bead necklaces. At first I don’t want any necklaces, but it is so easy: they are easy to toss and easy to catch with one hand. I just raise my hand casual-like and make eye contact with someone marching or on a float and a necklace lands in my hand.