A Change Is Gonna Come
About our partners
Soul Music is a BBC Radio 4 programme which explores the emotional impact of music and songs. People are interviewed about a particular track or piece of music and the song is explored from multiple viewpoints.
To mark Black History Month, the programme explored a song that has become synonymous with the American Civil Rights Movement, Sam Cooke's A Change Is Gonna Come. Inspired by personal events in the singer's life, notably being excluded from a 'whites-only' motel in Louisiana. The song is a brooding but bright civil-rights anthem that moves from bigotry and bloodshed to hope and beauty in barely three minutes. Political scientist Professor Mary King describes how Cooke’s record became a that symbol of hope.
The Mississippi River is a key visual motif in this piece of work. Not only is it a portent symbol for Cooke personally, graphically it also becomes a torrential fist symbolising the civil-rights movement. It allows us to build the narrative and keep it flowing to its conclusion.