Tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King

We Shall Overcome: A Tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

If you’re planning a tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., have a look at our collection of powerful songs to celebrate this powerful speaker who inspired millions with his words of love, tolerance, and peaceful revolution. Below is a list of songs we’ve selected to commemorate this remarkable human being. 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.

[Edit: Unfortunately, the Moodswings albums are no longer on Spotify or Apple Music. Looks like I’m not the only one who asked the question why—I found this on the Spotify community page. If you use Spotify or Apple Music, you may have to import the songs from your iTunes music library if you have them (Apple Music does this seamlessly). They still can be found on Youtube if you are able to use Youtube in your classes. They are so good, it’s worth the effort! If you can’t do that, use one or two of the numerous songs that reference MLK that we posted below.]

Spiritual High (Parts I, II, and III), Moodswings, 95 bpm
There are three 5-minute parts to this song. Part III 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 calls you out of the saddle to climb. That post explains how I did a combination of both.

Many thanks to Bill Pierce, Billy Coburn, Laura Iwan, and Andrea Shepherd for their contributions to this fabulous playlist (much of it collected in the ICA Facebook group exclusively for yearly premium members). Please leave your suggestions 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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