Watch: Washington, D.C. Protesters Sing Bill Withers' 'Lean On Me' This week at the protests in Washington, D.C., thousands of voices joined spontaneously in singing the Bill Withers classic "Lean on Me," led by local musician Kenny Sway.
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At The D.C. Protests, A 'Lean On Me' Singalong Offered A Moment Of Solace

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At The D.C. Protests, A 'Lean On Me' Singalong Offered A Moment Of Solace

At The D.C. Protests, A 'Lean On Me' Singalong Offered A Moment Of Solace

At The D.C. Protests, A 'Lean On Me' Singalong Offered A Moment Of Solace

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/870735440/871404692" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

Protesters in Washington, D.C., hold up their phones during a demonstration outside the White House over the death of George Floyd. Eric Baradat/AFP via Getty Images hide caption

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Eric Baradat/AFP via Getty Images

Protesters in Washington, D.C., hold up their phones during a demonstration outside the White House over the death of George Floyd.

Eric Baradat/AFP via Getty Images

It had been a long, hot day of protests in Washington, D.C. As dusk descended on the nation's capital on June 3, a man in the crowd held up a microphone. The man, Maryland-based singer Kenny Sway, asked the protestors to kneel — and to turn on their cell phone flashlights.

"I asked them if we can light the city up tonight," Sway says.

And with the lights on thousands of phones beaming bright as far as the eye could see, Kenny Sway lifted his voice with a familiar refrain: "Sometimes in our lives we all have pain, we all have sorrow." Pretty soon, a chorus of thousands joined him in singing the late Bill Withers' beloved hit "Lean on Me." Sway says it sounded like heaven; it was breathtaking.

"It sounded like unity and togetherness," he says. "It sounded like love and pureness of the people. It was one race. It was one moment."

You can watch the video, which D.C. magazine Washingtonian captured, below.

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