A Change Is Gonna Come

Mya Johnson, Staff Writer

The Two Killings of Sam Cooke, recently released on Netflix as part of its Remastered series, shows singer-songwriter Sam Cooke in a new light. When people think of Cooke, they merely think of a singer, and he rarely receives credit for being an amazing songwriter and activist; this documentary shows both sides of him. Few realize it was ultimately his brilliance and influence that would put him at the center of his controversial death.

Shortly after his musical career began, Cooke’s voice quickly became recognizable around the world. He started using his platform to speak about change as he was seeing first hand the horrible treatment of the black community in the United States. Cooke became friends with many impactful people, including Muhammad Ali, Malcolm X, and Jim Brown. This determined group helped to move the Civil Rights Movement farther along.

Sam Cooke started to write more political songs like “A Change Is Gonna Come.” This song is so politically charged that it was not allowed to be released in its unedited form until 2009. “A Change Is Gonna Come” became an anthem for the African American community and is still relevant to this day. In the song, Cooke sings, “I go to the movie and I go downtown. Somebody keep tellin’ me don’t hang around. It’s been a long, a long time coming. But I know a change gonna come…”. “A Change Is Gonna Come” speaks of the hardships Cooke faced as a black man in the mid-twentieth century. But the song also leaves people with the hope that “a change is gonna come.”

Sam Cooke was loved by many. His music gave a voice to the voiceless. Sadly, many believe it was his activism that lead to his untimely death at the hands of Bertha Franklin, night manager at the Hacienda Motel. The events of that night are still controversial and unclear. All we know is that Sam Cooke walked into the motel and did not come out alive.

The documentary goes on to explain that the FBI never really looked into his death, treating it as the murder of “just another black man.” Although Sam Cooke was killed, his music will live on in our hearts forever, and sooner or later, a change is gonna come.