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Release Date January 15th 2021
The Great March On Washington also features the famous speech made that day by civil rights activist and labor union rights leader A. Phillip Randolph, who was one of the leaders and organisers of the Great March. After his seven-minute-plus address, which opens the album, Randolph’s erudite speaking voice is heard throughout, as he introduces the day’s other speakers.
They include Walter Reuther, the president of the United Auto Workers (UAW), a longstanding ally of the civil rights movement; Roy Wilkins, executive secretary of the NAACP, who was named its executive director the following year; and Whitney M. Young, Jr., executive director of the National Urban League and another of the organisers of the March.
The album also contains a stirring performance of the gospel staple ‘We Shall Overcome,’ which became an anthem of the civil rights movement. It was recorded at Motown by its artist Liz Lands, who is accompanied by the Voices of Salvation.
“I’m beyond thrilled that we can honour Martin Luther King, Jr.’s legacy by reissuing this important audio document,” says Habtemariam. “We at Motown want to thank the MLK estate for giving us the opportunity to build on the relationship that Dr. King and our founder, Mr. Berry Gordy, forged over 50 years ago. It was incredibly important to them that the speeches from the Great March on Washington reach the widest possible audience — and that is our objective also.”
Bruce Resnikoff, president/CEO of Universal Music Enterprises (UMe), adds: “We are privileged and honoured to be entrusted by the MLK estate to oversee the release of his historic speech. As the long-time custodians of the Motown catalogue and its legacy, we will ensure that the recordings of Dr. King will be available in the highest quality.
“We have gone back to the original source tapes to digitally remaster this release,” continues Resnikoff, “and the clarity of Dr. King’s voice brings his message to today’s audience in a remarkable way.”