© 2022 Connecticut Public

FCC Public Inspection Files:
WEDH · WEDN · WEDW · WEDY · WNPR
WPKT · WRLI-FM · WEDW-FM · Public Files Contact
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations

At The D.C. Protests, A 'Lean On Me' Singalong Offered A Moment Of Solace

Protesters in Washington, D.C., hold up their phones during a demonstration outside the White House over the death of George Floyd.
Eric Baradat
/
AFP via Getty Images
Protesters in Washington, D.C., hold up their phones during a demonstration outside the White House over the death of George Floyd.

It had been a long, hot day of protests in Washington, D.C. As dusk descended on the nation's capital on June 3, a man in the crowd held up a microphone. The man, Maryland-based singer Kenny Sway, asked the protestors to kneel — and to turn on their cell phone flashlights.

"I asked them if we can light the city up tonight," Sway says.

And with the lights on thousands of phones beaming bright as far as the eye could see, Kenny Sway lifted his voice with a familiar refrain: "Sometimes in our lives we all have pain, we all have sorrow." Pretty soon, a chorus of thousands joined him in singing the late Bill Withers' beloved hit "Lean on Me." Sway says it sounded like heaven; it was breathtaking.

"It sounded like unity and togetherness," he says. "It sounded like love and pureness of the people. It was one race. It was one moment."

You can watch the video, which D.C. magazine Washingtonian captured, below.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

As special correspondent and guest host of NPR's news programs, Melissa Block brings her signature combination of warmth and incisive reporting. Her work over the decades has earned her journalism's highest honors, and has made her one of NPR's most familiar and beloved voices.

Stand up for civility

This news story is funded in large part by Connecticut Public’s Members — listeners, viewers, and readers like you who value fact-based journalism and trustworthy information.

We hope their support inspires you to donate so that we can continue telling stories that inform, educate, and inspire you and your neighbors. As a community-supported public media service, Connecticut Public has relied on donor support for more than 50 years.

Your donation today will allow us to continue this work on your behalf. Give today at any amount and join the 50,000 members who are building a better—and more civil—Connecticut to live, work, and play.

Related Content