Sam Cooke and Civil Rights

Sam Cooke and Civil Rights

*I was thinking surely someone would write about this ever since I heard Congressman John Lewis (D-Georgia)  mention the song “A Change Is Gonna Come” by Otis Redding during his speech at the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington. MSNBC reported, [“This moment in our history has been a long time coming, but a change has come,” he said, referencing Otis Redding’s song, “A Change is Gonna Come.”]

Hey! We love Redding and his version of the song, but let’s give credit where it’s due – the original version of that song was written, recorded, and made popular by Mississippi native Sam Cooke. According to records, Sam wrote and recorded the song in 1964 just months before he died. “A Change Is Gonna Come” may have been on the lips of those attending the 1963 event at the Lincoln Mall, but it had not yet become a song. Meanwhile Cooke was energizing and encouraging Black folks with songs like “Bring It On Home To Me,” “Havin’ A Party,” “Good Times,” and “Somebody Have Mercy.”

So while we appreciate Congressman Lewis for mentioning the song, and understandably referencing the cover version by a native son of the state he represents, let’s make sure we keep our history intact. Sam Cooke’s voice contributed so much to the Civil Rights Movement and deserves to be acknowledged  and in the mix during this frame of history.

By the way, 50 years ago in 1963 “Another Saturday Night” by Sam Cooke was released on RCA Records. He wrote the song while he was touring England with Little Richard. His songs have been covered by so many artists.

Here’s an interesting article about Cooke and civil rights written by Brian Leli:

Observing Change: Sam Cooke and the Civil Rights Movement


Larry Buford is a Los Angeles-based freelance writer. Author of “Things Are Gettin’ Outta Hand” (Steuben Pub) E-mail: [email protected] Visit the author at (213) 220-8101

larry buford

Larry Buford