CAIRO – 28 August 2017: August 28 marks the monumental day that gospel singer Mahalia Jackson participated in Martin Luther King's speech during the 1968 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, where King spoke of his dream for an America free of racism in a speech that would forever go down in history.
Known as the Queen of Gospel, Jackson was an avid supporter of civil rights and a long-time friend of MLK, having performed by the activist's sides for many of his speeches. Upon his request, she performed her song ‘I've Been Buked and I've Been Scorned’ to a crowd of over 250,000 people.
Yet her influence on that day was far more than just her soulful music. Were it not for her subtle goading of King to “tell them about the dream, Martin!”, then the activist may never have delivered the groundbreaking speech that day, as it was one he improvised on the spot. No longer relying on his notes, King began to speak purely from the heart.
She had frequently helped encourage King through tough times, singing to him through the phone to help lift his spirits, which was surely needed during that difficult era when segregation of the races was still in effect.
After King's death in 1968, Jackson sang a heartfelt song at his funeral, and withdrew from political activity for the duration of her life.