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Martin Luther King Jr. Day: 7 Songs Honoring The Icon

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is one of the most important figures in American history, and although we honor him with a national holiday in January, his lessons resonate 365 days a year. Naturally, a towering cultural figure such as MLK Jr. has influenced scores of important pieces of art, including songs by some of the biggest artists in the world. Check out 7 songs inspired by Martin Luther King Jr., as we celebrate him today and every day.

1 / 7

Public Enemy, "By The Time I Get To Arizona"

Amazingly, some U.S. state officials disagreed with instating a federal holiday honoring Martin Luther King Jr. Naturally (and rightfully), Chuck D and crew had some words for the folks in Arizona, among the resistant states.

2 / 7

U2, "Pride (In The Name of Love)"

"Early morning, April 4 / Shot rings out in the Memphis sky / Free at last, they took your life / They could not take your pride." Powerful words in honor of a legend.

3 / 7

Stevie Wonder, "Happy Birthday"

In 1981, Wonder reflected on why a man as monumental as MLK would not have his own national holiday. It was a fair question, and fortunately the music icon's question was answered.

4 / 7

The Beatles, "Blackbird"

Paul McCartney has stated that the White Album standout touches on the race relation issues that were ongoing in the late 1960s.

5 / 7

Ben Harper, "Like A King"

"Well Martin's dream has become Rodney's worst nightmare," Harper begins on the 1994 track, paralleling two famous Kings--MLK and Rodney--at another time of civil unrest.

6 / 7

Patty Griffin, "Up To The Mountain"

With a title that references Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I've Been to the Mountaintop" speech in 1968, the song finds Griffin yearning to see "the peaceful valley" in her lifetime.

7 / 7

Common & John Legend, "Glory"

The only Oscar win for Selma came in the best original song category, as Common and John Legend teamed up for a stirring anthem honoring MLK.

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