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From Rolling Stone, May 1, 2016:
Paul McCartney met two of the women who helped inspire the Beatles’ White Album classic “Blackbird” backstage at his Little Rock, Arkansas concert Saturday night.
The women, Thelma Mothershed Wair and Elizabeth Eckford, were two members of the Little Rock Nine, a group of nine black students who faced discrimination and the lasting impact of segregation after enrolling in the all-white Little Rock Central High School in 1957, following the Supreme Court’s historic Brown vs. the Board of Education decision.
After the Little Rock Nine enrolled, Arkansas governor Orval Faubus protested their entrance into the school, which in turn sparked the Little Rock Crisis. It was these events that inspired a young McCartney to pen the song “Blackbird.”
“Incredible to meet two of the Little Rock Nine— pioneers of the civil rights movement and inspiration for Blackbird,” McCartney tweeted.
From paulmccartney.com, December 2016:
At his Little Rock gig in April, Paul met Mrs. Thelma Mothershed Wair and Ms. Elizabeth Eckford of the ‘Little Rock Nine’
Paul: Yeah, that was important, meeting two of the ‘Little Rock Nine’. At the concerts, I had always remembered this story about ‘Blackbird’ and the writing of it, which came from me doing poetry readings. I’d been encouraged by my friend who helped me on that poetry book I did [‘Blackbird Singing’] to tell a story, if I could remember anything about the song and then read the poem. So I did that and I thought, “That’s probably a nice idea for concerts”.
I remembered this story of the Civil Rights thing. How ‘Blackbird’ was really meant to try and communicate with people going through those struggles, and to see if it could help them. “You were only waiting for this moment to arise”. It had a, “We will overcome,” kind of aspect. So, it was like coming full circle going to Little Rock, where we’d only ever heard of as being the sort of place where the first kids went into the school that had previously been segregated. And to meet two of the kids who are now grown ups, and to see how well they’d done, and that it had all worked, was very moving. I was glad to be some tiny part of that. That was a nice evening.
Last updated on December 24, 2016
This was the 1st and only concert played at Verizon Arena.
Setlist for the soundcheck
Little jam at Magic piano
Setlist for the concert