Martin Had A Dream: The Best MLK Samples And Shout-Outs In Music History

by (@unclegrambo)

3. “By The Time I Get To Arizona,” Public Enemy

The observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day was signed into national law by President Ronald Reagan in 1983, but it wasn’t until the year 2000 (!) that all fifty states actually acknowledged the day as a holiday. P.E.’s 1991 revolutionary track was specifically targeted at Arizona’s then-governor, Evan Mecham, who canceled MLK Day in his state. The controversial video that you see above, which concludes with Chuck D setting off a car bomb that assassinates the governor, aired only once on MTV. (See also: SPIN’s excellent article Public Enemy Look Back at 20 Years of ‘By the Time I Get to Arizona’.)

4. “We Shall Overcome,” Bruce Springsteen

This protest song took its roots from an old gospel track, and has been covered over the years by everyone from Bob Dylan to Joan Baez to Roger Waters. Springsteen’s version appeared on his 2006 album, We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions, and remains our favorite version of the song to this day.