I ended 2009 at a Concert for Peace at the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine in New York, joining a packed congregation in lighting candles and singing “This Little Light of Mine.” It has inspired me every day since!
The song is a gospel spiritual attributed to Harry Dixon Loes that became a rallying cry for the civil rights movement and later evolved into a popular children’s song. Following such a difficult year, it seems the perfect Anthem for 2010, shining the light of hope and optimism against the dark forces of fear in the world.
What does this spiritual have to do with PR? For me, it inspires a resolution to shine my light as a positive force in the world through my talents and by helping others. I also encourage everyone to use PR techniques such as social media, writing or speaking to add your light and truth.
In researching the song, I further learned that one of the most famous recordings was by the internationally renowned African-American bass-baritone concert singer, actor, professional athlete and lawyer Paul Robeson, a truly legendary figure.
At the height of his fame, Robeson decided to become a primarily political artist, speaking out against fascism and racism in the US and abroad as the United States government and many Western European powers failed after World War II to end racial segregation and guarantee civil rights for people of color. As a result, Robeson became a prime target of the Red Scare during the late 1940s through to the late 1950s.
The history of the song makes its words ring especially strong, “This little light of mine, I’m going to let it shine…” As the world faces tremendous economic and ecological challenges and the reality that we must work together as a global community, what better anthem for those determined to fight for peace and prosperity for all? Let your light shine!