Martin & Mahalia: His Words, Her Song

Martin & Mahalia: His Words, Her Song

By Andrea Davis Pinkney and Brian Pinkney

Genre: Juvenile Fiction

Curriculum Subject: Social Studies: African American Heritage, Personal Development: Diversity, Guidance/Health: Women’s Studies

Grades: 1-17


Educator Guide


They were each born with the gift of gospel.

Martin’s voice kept people in their seats, but also sent their praises soaring.

Mahalia’s voice was brass-and-butter — strong and smooth at the same time.

With Martin’s sermons and Mahalia’s songs, folks were free to shout, to sing their joy.


On August 28, 1963, Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his famous “I Have a Dream” speech from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, and his strong voice and powerful message were joined and lifted in song by world-renowned gospel singer Mahalia Jackson. It was a moment that changed the course of history and is imprinted in minds forever. Told through Andrea Davis Pinkney’s poetic prose and Brian Pinkney’s evocative illustration, the stories of these two powerful voices and lives are told side-by-side — as they would one day walk — following the journey from their youth to a culmination at this historical event when they united as one and inspiring kids to find their own voices and speak up for what is right.



The Black Media Archive – Hosts podcasts and other media featuring noteworthy African Americans.

Hear Mahalia Jackson sing I’m On My Way to Canaan Land.

Watch Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream Speech” on TeacherTube.



A School Library Journal Best Books of the Year

A Booklist Editor’s Choice

An National Council of Teachers of English Notable Book

An Association of Library Services for Children Notable Book


*”[A] colorful, inspirational resource.” — Booklist, starred review


“Sure to become an indispensable part of annual Black History Month celebrations and library nonfiction collections on important African-Americans.” — Kirkus Reviews


*”This fascinating new lens for children on the often-depicted “Dream” speech during the March on Washington reveals how Jackson’s powerful voice stilled the crowds for King’s… Historical context and artistic inspirations wrap up this informative approach to the two icons and the effect of their partnership on history.” — School Library Journal, starred review