With the recent celebration of Independence Day, July 4, there are still Black Americans who question if they have really gained all of the rights promised to citizens. The below story documents singer Ray Charles’ political statement to Congress in 1972 to advocate that Congressmen work on behalf of all people.

June 17, 1972

Congressional Record m-8 “Hey, Mister!” from Ray Charles’ new Tangerine album “A Message from the People” was read into the Congressional Record in May in a presentation by Dewey Duckett, executive director of the Midlands Community Action Agency of South Carolina, to a committee of the U.S. Senate chaired by Senator Allen Cranston of California.

Duckett chose “Hey Mister!” to emphasize the theme of his presentation because, as he wired Charles, “this selection appropriately expresses the true feeling of poor Americans.”

Penned by Bettv Lapcevic, the lyrics of “Hey Mister!” read in part: “Oh, Listen everybody, I got an idea….I think we oughta write a letter to the Congress of the United States and tell them what’s on our minds….Because we’re the richest country in the world and I just can’t understand why we got so many hungry people…

‘Listen: the world needs love, I know you admit it….What you’re doin’ to the poor man, Lord knows you oughta quit it. …How can he love you…How can he smile…When back at home, there’s a hungry little child.

You see, the poor people know that they can’t impeach you, oh no. …They just hopin’ that their cries will reach you. “Hey legislation, when you start to fix the nation….Take a real good look at the present administration, and then stand up, wave it goodbye….Find someone who can hear the people cry.”

“A Message from the People,” fast climbing national music charts, Ray Charles’ ode to America, its rights and its wrongs. It represents the strongest political statement Charles has made to date, either verbally or musically.