Friday on My Mind: Martin Luther King Jr.

It’s time again for Friday on My Mind. Our weekly blog post where we look at videos centered around one common theme. This is a collaborative effort between KEXP and King 5 News.

Yesterday marked what would have been Martin Luther King Jr.’s 86th birthday. This upcoming Monday the national holiday created in his honor will take place and it should be noted that he is in fact the only non-president to have such a holiday commemorating his birth. To say this holiday is significant is an understatement. From 1957 until his assassination in 1968, he traveled more than 6 million miles and gave over 2,500 public speeches. There is not much more I can say that hasn’t already been said about the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. This Sunday, join us all at the Columbia City Theater to celebrate his life at the 15th Annual Expansions MLK Unity Party. We’ll see you on the dancefloor as the Expansions DJs, Masa, Kid Hops, and Riz spin music throughout the night. And now here are just a few of songs that have been inspired by his life…

U2 – Pride (In the Name of Love) [2005]

Here’s the band performing their anthem, “Pride” (In The Name of Love)” live from Milan during a performance in 2005. This is one of U2’s earlier songs, but it’s message has stood the test of time.


Nina Simone – Why (The King Is Dead)

“Why (The King Is Dead)” was written by Nina Simone’s bassist, Gene Taylor, immediately after the death of Martin Luther King Jr.


The Rascals – People Got to Be Free

Beyond their other major hit “Groovin’”, “People Got to Be Free” was one of The Rascals’ most famous songs.


Honorable Mentions:

Rage Against the Machine – Renegades of Funk

While many are familiar of “Renegades of Funk” because of Rage Against the Machine, the song was actually collaboratively written by Afrika Bambaattaa and producer Arthur Baker. When it was first released by Afrika Bambaataa and the Soulsonic Force back in 1984, it was an early instance of hip hop and electronica-tinged music.


Public Enemy – By The Time I Get to Arizona


Smokey Robinson – Abraham, Martin, and John

A song written not just for Dr. King, but Abraham Lincoln, and JFK. Here is a rendition performed by Smokey Robinson for President Barack Obama.

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