SHREVEPORT, La. - Carla Cooke, the youngest daughter of “The King of Soul” Sam Cooke, will be performing at the Let the Good Times Roll Festival on June 22.
At that time, Mayor Adrian Perkins will issue an apology to the Cooke family for what he says was the unfair treatment Sam Cooke received here more than five decades ago, according to a news release from the mayor’s office.
On Oct. 8, 1963, Sam Cooke performed at the Municipal Auditorium—the famed Shreveport venue that launched Elvis Presley's career. Earlier that day, Cooke made reservations at a downtown hotel. When he arrived with his wife, brother, and manager, they were turned away because they were black, the news release states.
Sam Cooke toured the South many times and was aware of the treatment of African-Americans because of Jim Crow laws.
Perkins says according to Sam Cooke’s biography, when the hotel staff attempted to turn Cooke away, he stood his ground, becoming so defiant that his wife, Barbara, feared for his life.
The mayor’s news release refers to Cooke’s biography and offers this account: She said, “Sam, we'd better get out of here. They're going to kill you.” He responded, “They're not gonna kill me; I'm Sam Cooke.” Barbara shot back, “'No, to them you're just another...you know."
On Oct. 9, 1963, the New York Times ran a story titled, “Negro Band Leader Held in Shreveport.” Sam Cooke was arrested for disturbing the peace, the news release states.
This incident was Cooke’s inspiration for “A Change is Gonna Come,” which features the line, “I go downtown somebody keep tellin' me don't hang around,“ according to the release.
The mayor’s news release says Cooke turned the “humiliating experience into the anthem of the Civil Rights movement,” and that “A Change is Gonna Come” continues to inspire activists around the world to fight for fairness and equality.
Carla Cooke is a known vocalist in her own right. She performs a set called “The Sam Cooke Experience” that features some of her father’s classics.
“Much has changed since 1963 and we have brave men and women like Sam Cooke to thank for that,” Perkins said in the news release.