This photo is a still from a CSPAN recording of Congressional leaders holding hands and singing “We Shall Overcome”.
No, it wasn’t a spontaneous moment of unity on Capitol Hill. Neither can it be described (as Huff Post erroneously declared) as a strong moment of unity. This was ceremonial unity, part of the ceremony honoring Martin Luther King Jr and Coretta Scott King to mark the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act. Each of the honourees was posthumously awarded Congressional Gold Medals in recognition of the essential roles they played in the Civil Rights movement and their extraordinary achievements.
The photo is perhaps a little misleading in that the three pictured comprised less than half of those who led the singing. This CSPAN video captures the full line-up:
One wonders who was in charge of organizing this particular line arrangement – whoever it was, they have my admiration for pulling it off! From right to left we have: House Speaker John Boehner, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich), Rep John Lewis (D-Ga) and Rep Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio).
The left side of the line (is it coincidental that all those on the left side are also on the Left politically?) from Pelosi on down, sang lustily while the three on the right looked distinctly awkward, particularly Boehner and McConnell. Boehner just mumbled along, all the while exuding his reluctance to be there at all, while McConnell kept his mouth firmly closed around that strange little smile of his that seems almost embarrassed to find itself on McConnell’s face. I don’t think he knew the words.