Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Photo by Jeff Kamen/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
Did You Know That Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Won A GRAMMY?
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is as instantly recognizable in American history as a public figure can be. The civil rights leader, who singlehandedly challenged ingrained racial barriers in the United States through peaceful protest, earned a number of accolades in his too-short life, including the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964 and, the following year, the American Liberties Medallion by the American Jewish Committee (among others). Among his many, many awards is even a GRAMMY: Dr. King postumously won for Best Spoken Word Recording at the 13th GRAMMY Awards in 1971 for "Why I Oppose The War In Vietnam."
Not only that, but Dr. King was nominated two other times: once at the 11th GRAMMY Awards in 1969 for Best Spoken Word Recording (I Have A Dream), and prior to that in 1964 at the 6th GRAMMY Awards, for Best Documentary, Spoken Word Or Drama Recording (Other Than Comedy) for "We Shall Overcome (The March On Washington...August 28, 1963)."
In honor of Dr. King and his mission, which we observe on Martin Luther King Day, let's revisit his GRAMMY-nominated (and winning!) works.
At The 6th Annual GRAMMY Awards...
In the early '60s, Dr. King earned his first GRAMMY nod for We Shall Overcome (The March On Washington...August 28, 1963), which was up for Best Documentary, Spoken Word Or Drama Recording (Other Than Comedy).
The authorized radio broadcast captured more than 250,000 people marching on Washington, D.C. in peaceful protest against racial segregation and for equal rights legislation. It featured performances from folk heroes Joan Baez, Odetta, Bob Dylan, Peter, Paul & Mary and Marian Anderson. It also captured Dr. King's now world-renowned "I Have A Dream" speech, where he famously called for racial and economic justice, as well as a general end to racism in the United States.
At The 11th Annual GRAMMY Awards...
One year after his assasination, the Recording Academy again recognized Dr. King with a Best Spoken Word Recording nomination. As opposed to the early '60s radio broadcast recording mentioned above, this nomination recognized a newer recording distributed by 20th Century Fox Records called Have A Dream: The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. 1929-1968, with the subtitle reading, "The original address from the March on Washington, August 28, 1963." According to Discogs, King is the only advertised name on the album jacket, but co-organizer A. Phillip Randolph and fellow civil rights activists Dr. Benjamin E. Mays, John Lewis, Whitney M. Young, Jr. and Roy Wilkins are also featured on the recording.
At The 13th Annual GRAMMY Awards...
When Dr. King postumously won a GRAMMY in 1971, it was Best Spoken Word Recording for "Why I Oppose The War In Vietnam." He gave the famous speech at the Riverside Church in New York City in the spring of 1967, one year before he was assassinated.
"We as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values," King said in his GRAMMY-winning sermon. "We must rapidly begin the shift from a thing oriented society to a person oriented society, when machines and computers, profit motives and property rights, are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, extreme materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered. A true revolution of values will soon cause us to question the fairness and justice of many of our past and present policies…true compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar, it comes to see that an edifice that produces beggars needs restructuring."
As you can no doubt tell, revisiting King's teachings on peace and race equality are a vital part of how society will continue to evolve, even decades later. Have a happy and healthy Martin Luther King Day, and find out who'll take home GRAMMY gold this year when the 61st GRAMMY Awards air on Sunday, Feb. 10 on CBS.