Black History Month: Mahalia Jackson

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By Lucy Blair

Mahalia Jackson, the song bird from God. The Queen of Gospel, the background to the civil rights movement in America. Perhaps even the first successful African American gospel singer. Jackson struggled throughout her life with meager education, living in a small house with 13 other people. Due to the fact of the lack of money for education, she left school in the 4th grade.  When her mother died, she was raised by her aunt Duke. The early influences in her life were the blues in New Orleans, the hot beats, the banana streamers. Oh and of course were the gospel in her local churches. Soon, she was singing on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays and four times on Sunday. Surrounded by many other people, her voice was heard around the block. Into her teens and twenties, she hit international fame with a song “Move On Up a Little Higher.”

She was involved in the Civil Rights Movement,  singing at the March on Washington. By request of a personal friend, Dr. Rev Martin Luther King Jr. Then she later sang at his funeral.

All images used legally by/from AP images.