I find the history of the song Change is Gonna Come fascinating. It was written by Sam Cooke after an incident that occurred on October 8, 1963. He had a reservation at a Holiday Inn in Shreveport, Louisiana and when he and his wife arrived they were told there were told there were no rooms available because they were black. He voiced his outrage at such a policy and was later arrested for “disturbing the peace” after they had already left the Shreveport Holiday Inn. Essentially, he was arrested for being black in the South and voicing an opinion about an openly discriminatory and hateful policy.
What I find fascinating about this song and it’s many, many renditions from Al Green to Aretha Franklin is it still captures that optimism that was present in The United States of America before the collective psyche of the nation was damaged through multiple high profile assassinations throughout the 1960’s (most of which were under mysterious circumstances).
This is a song we could all use some re-connection back to and to a United States of America that had problems yet people were optimistic about the progress in the works. The incident that inspired this song was just 6 weeks before the assassination of President John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963. After that happened the country was in a state of shock and only further traumatized with death after death of practically every other truly progressive, popular, and well recognized person of the 1960’s fighting for social justice.
Malcolm X was then assassinated in 1965, but he did have a known feud going on at the time. Malcolm X was more extreme and believed in ‘any means necessary’ but he’d also lived a more extreme life than the other leaders that were assassinated in the 1960’s. Malcolm X’s father was killed by white supremacists and the police refused to do anything about it. He ended up eventually bounced around in foster care. He eventually dropped out of high school and ended up imprisoned for 6 years at a young age where he was introduced to the Muslim brotherhood and began to educate himself. I actually don’t view Malcolm X as an extremist; he was just a very awake and outspoken individual for the 1960’s and very willing to publicly vent his frustrations with the system.
Chris Madsen is a writer and activist based in the great state of Hawaii. He frequently writes from the unique perspective of his Pacific home. His opinions are his own.
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