Though only a modest hit for Cooke in comparison with his previous singles, “A Change Is Gonna Come” became an anthem for the American Civil Rights Movement. The song is widely considered Cooke’s best composition and has been voted among the best songs ever released by various publications. In 2007, the song was selected for preservation in the Library of Congress, with the National Recording Registry deeming the song “culturally, historically, or aesthetically important.”
“A Change Is Gonna Come” was partially inspired by an incident in which Cooke and his band tried to register at a “whites only” motel in Shreveport, Louisiana. On October 8, 1963, Cooke called ahead to the Holiday Inn North to make reservations for his wife, Barbara and himself, but when he and his group arrived, the desk clerk glanced nervously and explained there were no vacancies. While his brother Charles protested, Sam was fuming, yelling to see the manager and refusing to leave until he received an answer. His wife nudged him, attempting to call him down, telling him, “They’ll kill you,” to which he responded, “They ain’t gonna kill me, because I’m Sam Cooke.When they eventually persuaded Cooke to leave, the group drove away calling out insults and blaring their horns. When they arrived at the Castle Motel on Sprague Street downtown, the police were waiting for them, arresting them for disturbing the peace.The New York Times ran an AP report the following day headlined “Negro Band Leader Held in Shreveport,” but African-Americans were outraged, leading to the creation of a myth surrounding the incident, exaggerating parts of the story and fabricating others.
Needless to say the triumph is that because we keep going we cause change. Are you ready for the journey?
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