Sam Cooke wrote this song in response to personal experiences. The most specific incident that inspired the song was when Cooke and his friends were turned away from an all-white hotel.
Cooke was outraged. He was arrested that night for “disturbing the peace”.
He wanted to write a song that illustrated his and so many others’ hardships just because of the color of their skin.
It was released on December 22, 1964. Sam Cooke was fatally shot two weeks before the official release. The song became a Civil Rights Movement anthem because of its message and proclamation of hope for a change.