On 23d February 2015, Common and John Legend won the Oscar for their song Glory. The title track of the movie Selma, Glory makes the heart rise with hope. The song is sung in the tradition of gospel music, which was an important tool in the civil rights movement in America.
In an interview with Rolling Stone Common said “This is what I live for. This is what I want to do as an artist. This is who I want to be as a person — to be able to speak up and say things that can impact people’s lives, and things that can be inspiring to human beings.”
Writen as it was for the movie Selma, that features Martin Luther King as a central character the song captures the struggle and sacrifices made during the civil rights movement.Selma is the story of Selma to Montgomery marches.
Despite an end to segregation in 1964 with the Civil Rights Act, Afro-Americans continued to face prejudice and discrimination. This was particularly true when disenfranchised Afro-Americans try to register themselves as voters. Faced with no change in position three marches were taken out in 1965.
The death of deacon Jimmie Lee Jackson during a peaceful march triggered the first march.March 7, the day of the first march is also known as Bloody Sunday, thanks to the bloodshed and mayhem State Troopers unleashed on the 600 marchers at Edmund Pettus Bridge.
On March 9th a second march took place in which State Troopers let the protestors walk to a church. Unfortunately after the march Boston minister James Reeb was murdered.Lyndon Johnson the president of USA then asked for armed protection for the marchers. This request was denied by Governor Wallace leading President Johnson to intervene.
On March 21st, 2000 U.S soldiers, 1,900 members of the Alabama national Guard, Federal Marshalls and FBI agents protected the marchers as they walked from Selma to Montgomery. The protestors arrived in Montgomery on March 24th.
The Selma marches brought the Voting Rights Act into force. Lyndon Johnson’s famous speech on the ocassion resonates till today.
Even if we pass this bill, the battle will not be over. What happened in Selma is part of a far larger movement which reaches into every section and state of America. It is the effort of American Negroes to secure for themselves the full blessings of American life. Their cause must be our cause, too, because it is not just Negroes but really it is all of us who must overcome the crippling legacy of bigotry and injustice. And we shall overcome.
Glory commemorates these historical moments and is an anthem relevant for all civil uprisings all over the world. It tells us that when great injustice is done there are ways to speak against them, with peaceful, consistent action.
The biggest weapon is to stay peaceful
We sing, our music is the cuts that we bleed through
Somewhere in the dream, we had an epiphany
Now we right the wrongs in history
No one can win the war indvidually
It takes the wisdom of the elders, and young people’s energy
Welcome to the song we call victory