Hands Across America, 31 years later
Hands Across America, 31 years later

This year marks the 31th anniversary of Hands Across America, an event that brought out nearly 7 million Americans to form a human chain across the country on May 25, 1986, in an effort to raise awareness about hunger and homelessness in America.

According to the Associated Press news archive, the event drew nearly 50,000 Delawareans, including many from the Cape Region, who joined hands across 25 miles of Northern Delaware to continue the chain, which stretched another 4,100 miles across the continental United States.

AP reports say music producer and activist Ken Kragen, who played a key role in producing the “We Are the World” charity single for Africa in 1985, was a driving force behind this event, which he billed as the largest participatory event in the history of the world.

Millions of Americans assembled to form a 15-minute human chain from New York City to Long Beach, Calif., including former Cape resident Jim Wilson, who wrote in an email that he took a bus to New Castle County to participate.

“I was so inspired by the purpose and concept of the project that I arranged to take a bus full of students, staff and parents to be part of the chain that went through New Castle County,” Wilson said. “It was a tremendous experience and one I think anyone in the country who experienced it will always remember.”

Radio stations nationwide blasted the event’s theme song at 3 p.m. and participants in the human chain also sang songs like “We Are the World” and “America the Beautiful.”

It was also reported that the chain was not totally complete, with long ribbons and rope taking the place of people over hundreds of miles of desert and in east Los Angeles.

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