When looking at the month of August in the Human Rights Watch Planner*, I read that the 19th was designated as World Humanitarian Day (WHD).  It was designated (as such) by the UN General Assembly in 2008. A theme is chosen each year. The focus for 2021 is the climate and “meaningful actions.” WHD is: “A global celebration of people helping people.” (#TheHumanRace) This humanitarianism focus made me recall a solo sung by a woman years ago at a non-competitive talent program. 

The woman was very large, which I noted only because her soft, beautiful soprano voice was in such contrast to her size. She stood before the audience, folded her hands in front of her and sang: “If I can help somebodyyy…” She held onto the note and moved her head from side to side while looking at the audience. After about a minute, she continued with, “…As I pass along, if I can cheer somebody with a word or songggg…” Again, she held onto the note and shook her head from side to side as she stared at the audience. 

She then continued with: “If I can show somebody he is traveling wrong, then my living will not be in vain.”  When she started singing the words to the chorus, “Then my living will not be in vain”, the audience stood up and clapped, while some people raised their hands and shouted, “Amen, sister. Sing the song. Thank you, thank you, thank you.” 

The soloist sang the other verses, but I could hardly hear the words because of the audience’s responses. The soloist’s song is entitled “If I Can Help Somebody” and was written by Alma Bazel Androzzo (1912-2001), an American composer and pianist. This song is said to be a favorite gospel song of the late Dr. Martin Luther King. It is humanitarianism in a song. 

*International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition is an international day celebrated Aug. 23 of each year, a day designated by UNESCO to memorialize the transatlantic slave trade.

Peggy Tarr

Peggy Tarr has been a columnist for the Evanston RoundTable since its founding in 1998. Born in Bruce Springsteen's hometown of Freehold, New Jersey, she graduated from Rutgers University with a degree...