Theme Ride Thursday: I Have a Dream, A Tribute Ride to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

If you’re planning a tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., look no further than our collection of powerful songs to celebrate this charismatic speaker who inspired millions with his words of love, tolerance, and peaceful revolution. 

Embark on a transformative journey in your cycling studio with my theme profile called I Have a Dream, A Tribute to Martin Luther King, a truly empowering experience. Last year, two riders approached me after my class, expressing profound gratitude for the moving tribute. The ride is not easy—it consists of four very hard intervals and finishes with a 15-minute moderate climb—but the impactful songs help to overcome the difficulties.

If you prefer to craft your own tribute ride, explore our curated bucket playlist featuring more than 110 songs that encapsulate the essence of this remarkable man, his spirit, and the cultural and societal backdrop of his era. Like any theme ride, you may choose to do an entire playlist celebrating the man and his movement, or just be selective and include a warm-up, cool-down, and/or one powerful climb.

ICA members can access the Express Profile for this ride along with the Spotify bucket playlist at the end of this post.

Here is a collection of songs to consider for your tribute ride.

Spiritual High (Parts 1, 2, and 3), Moodswings, 95 bpm
There are three 5-minute parts to this song. Part 3 includes Dr. Martin Luther King’s famous speech. On the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights March, I wrote this post on how I coached the entire 15-minute combination using all three parts of the song. It’s a little complicated because at 95 bpm it’s better as a fast flat, but the emotional tug of the song (in my opinion) calls you out of the saddle to climb. That post explains how I did a combination of both. In my more recent profile, I use it as a warm-up.

[Note: I am THRILLED beyond belief to discover that this album has been reinstated to Spotify! (At least, here in the US.) For the longest time, I had to use my iTunes to teach this profile because “Spiritual High (Part 3)” was no longer available on Spotify and I own the MP3 in my library. That’s one frustrating thing with Spotify—you never know when songs might disappear due to music rights issues.]



I Have a Dream, PPK, 8:56, 132 bpm
This Russian trance group includes soundbites of MLK’s speech. Use it for a long climb.

By the Time I Get to Arizona, Public Enemy, 81 bpm (explicit)
If you are OK with making a social statement, this is a powerful song that highlights the racism at the time the Martin Luther King holiday was signed into law by President Reagan. If you can project videos in your studio, make sure to include this one. 

Glory, from the Motion Picture Selma, 4:32, (bpm n/a)
Set the tone for today’s ride with this song as either your pre-class music or your warm-up or cool-down.

Martin Luther (The King), Smokehouse, 4:27, 114 bpm
This R&B song works nicely as a pre- or post-class track or a slow, hard climb.

They Killed Him, Kris Kristofferson, 3:25, 148 bpm

Marchin’ with Martin Luther King Jr., Joe Dolce, 4:17, 137 bpm

NAS, I Can, 4:13, 95 bpm
This track features empowering lyrics about the struggles and triumphs of Black people throughout history. While it doesn’t mention MLK, it is imbued with his spirit.

ICA members can access the profile and the full bucket playlist with over 110 songs below. Many thanks to Bill Pierce, Billy Coburn, Laura Iwan, and Andrea Shepherd for their contributions to this fabulous playlist. Please leave any additional suggestions we might have missed in the comments below.





  1. I am a little late in responding. 🙂 Thanks so much for the music and ideas for an MLK, Jr. ride. My classes absolutely loved it!! The drill with the Spiritual High songs was a huge hit. I would love to find some more songs with that same musical feel….and it allows you to start at a higher cadence then dial into more resistance and drop down to the lower cadence. I had never done that before within the same song and this music was awesome! Thank you, ICA!!

  2. After retiring my ML King Day ride a while ago, I decided to resurrect it this year. One song on my original playlist, not on ICA’s list is,Rosa Parks by Outkast. Including this 103BPM tribute to a civil rights icon seems obvious. I updated the playlist with a new song that fit tge message well: We The People….off of A Tribe Called Quest’s 2016 release. This short 93BPM song is about the intolerance of others that shouldn’t be tolerated in our society.

  3. How ironic that one of the songs is by a Russian group. 🙂

  4. Love, love, love these and already have many of them! Could I make a suggestion? Could you list out the name of the Playlist along with the User’s Name for your Spotify links? I’m on my work computer and the view I have of the Spotify embedded player only lists the first song of the playlist. In order to discover the playlist name, I have to open the playlist, which doesn’t work on my work desktop. This way I can locate it on my iPhone and save it for later. I hope this makes sense…? Sometimes, I am able to find the playlists on Spotifiy by searching Jennifer’s profile but oftentimes, they are under another name and there is no way to know what name it is. Thank you!

    1. ditto, I have the same issue 🙂

  5. I taught my MLK class four times today – and got great responses to it. One person asked, “Where did you find all that music?” I just smiled. Thank you ICA.

  6. I am thinking about subscribing to ICA and have a question about your theme playlists and profiles. How far in advance do you publish them? I understand tributes like the one to David Bowie are unplanned, but what is the lead time for “regular” holidays/events?

    I loved your Halloween playlist suggestions although some of the songs were hard to find, and time needs to be allotted to not only find/download the songs but also to learn the songs and profiles.

    Thank you

    1. Author

      Hi Jane,
      we try to post them a week or two in advance when possible. For the major holidays we have all our playlists and profiles in the archives as well. While we do update the playlists every year, you can still search for past ones to get a head start. In the search bar you would enter “Valentines playlists” for example and see all past ones.

      We have over 100 profiles, and over 600 song suggestions inlcuding tips on how to use each song.

      Sometimes I find the perfect song, and then only in the writing of the profile, discover it’s hard to find (or might require purchasing an entire cd to get that one song). When that’s the case, I try to suggest an alternative song, and I ask my other contributors to do the same.

      Since these types of rides are really growing in popularity, I am planning on hiring a person to be in charge solely of organizing the current theme profiles and playlists in the archives, as well as create and curate new ones, so you can expect even more creative and fun rides!

  7. Great resource for a respectful theme for MLK ride today. My playlist also included American Oxygen by Rihanna

  8. Thanks for these. I’d have an interest in an entire set of “80s” hair bands/Arena Rock songs.

  9. One song I will play on MLK day is “Happy Birthday To Ya” by Stevie Wonder.

  10. Very helpful article. It will save me hours, and give me a better result besides. Thank you ICA!!

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