Songs of Celebration & Remembrance: Commemorating the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr. and the Inauguration of Barack Obama

Martin Luther King Jr.

On the steps of the Lincoln Memorial last night, performers including Bruce Springsteen, U2, Bettye LaVette, Beyonce, and many others, joyously celebrated the impending Inauguration of Barack Obama with songs like “America the Beautiful,” “This Land Is Your Land,” and “One Love (Let’s Get Together).” With the “hope” so palpably in the air, even the more the poignant songs like Sam Cooke’s “A Change Is Gonna Come” seemed to imply that the change was already here. Certainly, such hope can make us think so, but today, on the commemoration of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s life and legacy, it is important that we remember not just how far we’ve come but also how far we still need to go:

The full version of Martin Luther King Jr.’s speech at the Lincoln Memorial on August 28, 1963:

Odetta – Glory Halleluja (live at Garrison Institute)

Common – A Dream

Mavis Staples – Eyes On The Prize

Joan Baez – Oh Freedom

Marvin Gaye – Abraham , Martin, John

Mahalia Jackson – We Shall Overcome

Stevie Wonder – Happy Birthday

Public Enemy – By The Time I Get To Arizona

Aretha Franklin – I Dreamed A Dream (live)

UB40 – King (live)

Nina Simone – Why (The King of Love Is Dead)

Harry Belafonte – Martin Luther King (live)

We Are One

Ben Stanfield

Here are a few selections from the Inaugural kickoff concert, “We Are One,” last night on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC, where artists like U2, Stevie Wonder, Bruce Springsteen, Shakira, Pete Seeger, Bon Jovi, John Mellencamp, Usher, Beyonce, and Bettye LaVette performed for hundreds of thousands of supporters and onlookers.

U2 – Pride (In the Name of Love) & City of Blinding Lights

Stevie Wonder with Usher and Shakira – Higher Ground

Bettye LaVette & Bon Jovi – A Change Is Gonna Come

Bruce Springsteen & Pete Seeger – This Land Is Your Land

John Mellencamp – Pink Houses


Valerie Hinojosa

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One Comment

  1. Deborah Kuznitz
    Posted January 21, 2009 at 10:56 am | Permalink

    Thanks for putting this together. After watching the inauguration festivities yesterday, this really grounded the issue in context, especially, so far, watching the video by Mavis Staples- wow! I teared up watching the video of people being attacked for the color of their skin. It makes me sick but I am so thrilled that now we have a real leader in the White House.

    Thanks again for the event at Neumo’s (great music) and this web tribute.


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