Friday 2 May 2014

Martin & Mahalia: His Words, Her Song

In honour of Children's Book Week in Canada, I am posting a series of book reviews on picture books. The first title is Martin & Mahalia:  His Words, Her Song.

"They were born with the gift of the gospel.  Martin's voice kept people in their seats, but also sent their praises soaring.  Mahalia's voice was brass-and-butter -- strong and smooth at the same time.  With Martin's sermons and Mahalia's songs, folks were free to shout, to sing their joy."

On August 28, 1963, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. stood on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and delivered the riveting "I Have a Dream" speech to thousands of protesters who gathered around the reflecting pool.  Dr. King's speech resonated with the audience, much of which was American blacks who were denied the basic rights of their white counterparts.

Dr. King, a Baptist minister, preached non-violence.  He wanted this protest to be a peaceful one.  But at the same time, he wanted to stir the souls of the audience members.  He brought along his good friend, Mahalia Jackson, to lift them up in song.  The "Queen of Gospel" belted out "How I Got Over" to a crowd of 250,000.  Her powerful voice, which wafted across the reflecting pool on that sunny summer day, gave her audience goose bumps.   

Note:  After I read my daughter Jacqueline Martin & Mahalia, she asked me why the two of them weren't married.  She thought they were the perfect match.

Note:  For more information, read my blog post "I Have a Dream" (August 28, 2011) at

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