Re­mem­ber When...

PS Magazine - - REMEMBER WHEN -

On May 25, 1986, Hands Across Amer­ica was held when an es­ti­mated 5.5 mil­lion peo­ple held hands to form a chain across six­teen states and the

District of Columbia (and an­other mil­lion Amer­i­cans par­tic­i­pated in aux­il­iary events in states that were not part of the of­fi­cial chain).

The land­mark ef­fort to raise aware­ness and fund­ing to fight home­less­ness and hunger in Amer­ica was con­ceived and or­ga­nized by mu­sic pro­moter Ken Kra­gen and The USA for Africa Foun­da­tion.

The route was cir­cuitous in order to link all the ma­jor cities. Some heav­ily pop­u­lated sec­tions were 6–10 peo­ple deep while in sparsely pop­u­lated ar­eas, like deserts, yel­low rib­bons, hand-made pa­per dolls, and bal­loons were used to keep the chain from break­ing.

Par­tic­i­pants re­mained hold­ing hands in the chain for 15 min­utes, all the while sing­ing, “We Are the World,” “Amer­ica the Beau­ti­ful,” and the “Hands Across Amer­ica” theme song.

Even for those who didn’t stand in the hu­man chain, it was nearly im­pos­si­ble to ig­nore the widely pub­li­cized event. The event was sup­ported by nu­mer­ous politi­cians, no­ta­bles, and celebri­ties, in­clud­ing spokesper­sons Bill Cosby, Kenny Rogers, Lily Tom­lin, and Pete Rose. The me­dia widely cov­ered the lead-up and the ac­tual event, a com­mer­cial ran dur­ing Su­per Bowl XX, and an­nounce­ments were printed on mil­lions of McDon­ald’s place­mats.

Above: Pres­i­dent Ron­ald Rea­gan and First Lady Nancy Rea­gan, joined by daugh­ter Mau­reen and chil­dren of White House staff, clasp hands and sing dur­ing the Hands Across Amer­ica line in front of the White House in Wash­ing­ton, DC.

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