August 17, 2022

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WATCH: Regina King on the power of Sam Cooke’s ‘A Change Is Gonna Come’

Regina King says a special moment in her directorial debut was seeing one of Sam Cooke’s most enduring songs in the script.

Cooke’s “A Change Is Gonna Come” is an anthem of the civil rights movement. And in King’s film, “One Night in Miami …”, the song is sung by “Hamilton” star Leslie Odom Jr., whose performance ends the movie on a high, but bittersweet, note.

The tired resignation of the song’s final lyrics — “But I know a change is gonna come, Oh, yes it will” — along with the tears shed by Odom Jr. as he sings it, convey a strong message that is heartbreakingly familiar. In the wake of a year filled with protests over racial injustice and police brutality, “A Change Is Gonna Come” is as applicable to America today as it was when Cooke first released it.

“While Sam Cooke was played all the time in my household, [“A Change Is Gonna Come”] was probably not the song that resonated for me as a kid,” King told the PBS NewsHour’s Jeffrey Brown. “I went and played the song after I read the script. And I have to be honest — that was the first time the song just filled me up in a way that it never had before.”

"One Night in Miami …" footage courtesy of Amazon

Image courtesy of RCA Victor Records via Wikimedia Commons

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