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Photo of Sam Cooke

Source: Michael Ochs Archives / Getty

Better late than never seems to be the ever-present theme of city officials apologizing to Black icons who were mistreated in their cities back in the day.

Today, a Louisiana Mayor is apologizing for how late singer Sam Cooke was treated in his city 56 years ago. It was 1963 when Cooke traveled to Shreveport, Louisiana for a performance when he was denied entry into a hotel simply because he was Black. Mayor Adrian Perkins officially apologized to the family, and awarded Cooke’s daughter with a key to the city.

“We need to come to terms with our past so we can move forward in a positive way, so this is the beginning. Specifically, with this, it’s a beginning of a new relationship with the Cooke family,” said Perkins.

The soul pioneer was arrested later that night after he and his crew allegedly honked their horns loud and obnoxiously in anger for not being allowed into the hotel, for their night’s stay. Cooke’s friend told local news that the honking was simply a malfunction with the vehicle, but the hotel owners weren’t buying it.

Sam Cooke, a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee was in Shreveport to perform at the Municipal Auditorium, but the implications of that trip stretched far and wide from just that show.

The incident that night inspired what is probably his greatest song, “A Change Gonna Come.”

That song went on to become the anthem of the Civil Rights Movement and in 2005 it was voted as the 12th best song of all time.

So while the Mayor of Shreveport Louisiana is apologizing for how Cooke was treated, that very treatment went on to create one of the most iconic songs in the history of music.