Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, Washington, DC

Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, Washington, DC

When I was growing up, I didn’t have many records to listen to, but those I had I listened to over and over again. I can honestly say they helped shape the person I am today, my likes and dislikes, and more significantly, my beliefs and the mores by which I live.

One such record was Pete Seeger’s We Shall Overcome which included some of the songs he sang at his 1963 Carnegie Hall concert. I was 7 when this record, Pete Seeger’s commentary about the songs, and the songs themselves, such as If You Miss Me at the Back of the Bus, I Ain’t Scared of Your Jail (‘Cause I Want My Freedom), Oh Freedom, and the wonderful We Shall Overcome, began to teach me about the struggles in the Southern United States, and began to shape my world view.

Those songs also made Martin Luther King, Jr. my hero.

Today, all over the world, many people are commemorating Dr. King on what is known generally as Martin Luther King Day, and is known to some simply as Martin’s Day. For many, it is a special day of service. For me, it is a day for remembering what an amazing man Dr. King was, and for being grateful for how far people have come in the last fifty years. It is also a day for hoping fervently that the journey toward the future he envisioned will continue, and that some day there will be true equality, compassion and caring among all people.

It is so appropriate, and so moving, that the first African American President of the United States is being publicly inaugurated for his second term on Martin Luther King Day (after privately taking the Oath of Office on the 20th as law requires).

We shall overcome.


Are there songs that have influenced your views of life?

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