On January 18, 2015, Common and John Legend performed their Oscar-winning song from the Ava Duvernay-directed film, Selma, at the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, AL. The bridge holds historical importance as the place where "Bloody Sunday" occurred, which became a turning point of the Civil Rights Movement. Marchers were filmed being violently attacked by state troopers, and the footage sparked outcry across the country.
Common also starred in the acclaimed film, which depicts the events of the march in graphic, heartbreaking detail. As for the song "Glory," it's very on the nose with its broad proclamations about justice and perseverance and cinematic production courtesy of Legend. Those are the very elements that made it a hit though, inching the Chicago natives closer to EGOT status with their Oscar win and landing them square in the center of America's living rooms as they performed the song everywhere from the Grammys (they won and award there as well), to the 2020 Democratic National Convention and Good Morning America.
"Resistance is us/ That’s why Rosa sat on the bus/ That’s why we walk through Ferguson with our hands up… They say ‘Stay down,’ and we stand up… King pointed to the mountaintop, and we ran up," Common raps on the track.
Common talked about the song's continued relevance at the time of its release.
"This is not only for paying honor to those who lived in these times during the ’60s, but also really relevant to today," he told Billboard in 2014. “You can look at what’s going on in Ferguson, and it’s not a far comparison to what happened to Jimmy Lee Jackson during the time of the civil rights movement that is shown in the film. So I really was thinking about encouraging people that we’ve come a long way, but we’ve still got some fighting to do, and we are capable. We’ve got to carry this torch and take it to the next level."
Watch the video below.