In the pews, on the streets and in the halls of Washington, songs of freedom rang out loud and proud during the civil rights era. As we mark the 50th anniversary of the seminal year that changed it all — 1963 — ESSENCE.com takes a look back at the 20 socially conscious songs, from radio pop hits to folk protest tunes, that forever changed our outlook as a people.
Sam Cooke: “A Change Is Gonna Come”
"A Change Is Gonna Come" was released in 1964, around the time of Cooke's death, and it has lived on through some of nation's most historic moments. The song is said to have been played at the funeral of Malcolm X, at Rosa Parks' house after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, and at the 2008 inauguration of President Barack Obama.