Paul McCartney Meets Women Who Inspired ‘Blackbird’

By Annie Reuter

Over the weekend, Paul McCartney met two women who inspired the Beatles’ classic song “Blackbird.”

Related: Paul McCartney Extends 2016 One On One Tour

During the Little Rock, Arkansas stop of his One On One Tour on Saturday (April 30), McCartney was introduced backstage to Thelma Mothershed Wair and Elizabeth Eckford. The women were members of the Little Rock Nine, a group of nine black students who, enrolled in an all-white high school in Arkansas during the height of the civil rights movement following the Supreme Court’s Brown vs. the Board of Education decision. The landmark 1954 case ruled that establishing separate schools for black and white students was unconstitutional. The two women, along with the other black students, faced extreme discrimination after Arkansas governor Orval Faubus objected to the enrollment, soon sparking the Little Rock Crisis.

Right before playing “Blackbird” that evening, McCartney spoke about how that period in American history inspired the song.

“Way back in the ’60s, there was a lot of trouble going on over civil rights, particularly in Little Rock,” he told the audience. “We would notice this on the news back in England, so it’s a really important place for us, because to me, this is where civil rights started.

He added: “We would see what was going on and sympathize with the people going through those troubles and it made me want to write a song that, if it ever got back to the people going through those troubles, it might just help them a little bit.”

“Blackbird” was featured on the Beatles White Album. The song was released in 1968.

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