Baylor Gospel Expert: MLK’s ‘I Have a Dream’ Inspired Response from Black Gospel Artists

Baylor Gospel Expert: MLK’s ‘I Have a Dream’ Inspired Response from Black Gospel Artists Baylor Gospel Expert: MLK’s ‘I Have a Dream’ Inspired Response from Black Gospel Artists

August 23, 20171 min read
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Fifty-four years ago this week.


On Aug. 28, 1963, from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered “I Have a Dream” – one of the most iconic speeches in American history and a defining moment of the Civil Rights Movement.


For black gospel artists recording in the years after 1963, King’s speech was fertile ground for creative expression, said Robert Darden, professor of journalism and founder and director of Baylor’s Black Gospel Music Restoration Project (BGMRP).


“These artists responded by creating songs that sampled portions of Dr. King’s recorded audio, drew inspiration from his words or supported the Civil Rights Movement in the wake of its delivery,” Darden said.


Darden founded Baylor’s Black Gospel Music Restoration Project more than a decade ago in an effort to identify, acquire, preserve, digitize and catalog recordings from the black gospel music tradition. This music, from the Golden Age of Gospel from 1945 to 1975, was quickly vanishing as albums made the transition to CDs.


Through the work of the Baylor Libraries’ Digital Projects Group, recordings from the BGMRP are available online in the Baylor Libraries Digital Collection, and in some cases includes other materials, such as taped interviews, photographs, press packets, tour books and programs, newspaper and magazine clippings, and sheet music.


Music from the BGMRP also has been included in a permanent exhibit featuring African-American musical history at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African American History and Culture.


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  • Robert Darden, M.A.
    Robert Darden, M.A. Professor, Journalism, Public Relations and New Media

    Darden is a professor in the department of journalism, PR & new media. He directs Baylor's Black Gospel Music Restoration Project.

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