Mahalia Jackson

Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Examining The 'Precious' Hymn That Inspired MLK

January 12, 2018

It was Martin Luther King Jr.’s favorite song: a hymn called "Take My Hand, Precious Lord." It was Mahalia Jackson's performance of this song that captured the heart of Dr. King, with her soulful delivery of the simple, blues-inspired tune. She would often join him at demonstrations to perform the song, meant to inspire civil rights activists and followers as they journeyed forward in their fight. And on April 4, 1968, Dr. King's last words were a request for this song.

Callie Crossley speaks to two local scholars about the significance of "Take My Hand, Precious Lord" and how it reflected the actions and message of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the civil rights movement and those who fought for equality.


  • Ingrid Monson, the Quincy Jones Professor of African-American Music and professor of African and African American studies and music at Harvard University. Follow Ingrid on Twitter.
  • Dennis Montgomery III, professor at Berklee College of Music, director of Berklee’s Reverence Gospel Choir, Minister of Music at Pleasant Hill Baptist Church and Holistic Life Baptist Church Ministries. 

BONUS: Listen to the songs we discussed in this segment in their entirety below!


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