WUSA-TV via YouTube

It’s a powerful thing to channel your pain into positive change. On Saturday, Jennifer Hudson did just that when she took to the stage at the March for Our Lives rally in Washington, D.C., to sing a soul-stirring rendition of Bob Dylan’s protest anthem “The Times They Are a-Changin’.”

Backed by a multicultural local choir, the Grammy- and Oscar-winning singer and actress, who tragically lost her mother, brother and nephew to gun violence in a 2008 domestic dispute, tapped into her gospel roots to assure the hundreds of thousands of protesters assembled that change is indeed going to come. During a musical break, she told the crowd: “We all came here for change, right? ... We’re all here for a reason: We’ve all got a story, we’ve all got a purpose. And we want change.”

It was a profoundly emotional final performance in a profoundly powerful day, full of speeches, solidarity and encouragement to take an active role in ending gun violence.

A native of Chicago’s South Side, Hudson bravely confronted her own personal trauma when she portrayed the mother of a child lost to gun violence in Spike Lee’s controversial film Chi-raq. In a 2015 interview with W magazine, Hudson presciently addressed the need for continued conversation on the issue:

This is reality for me. This is my life. A part of my life. ... I thought, ‘You know what? It’s worth me telling my story so that hopefully no one else has a story like this to tell.’ The film we’re doing is trying to save my city; as my mother said, take care of home. ...

And it’s not just the city of Chicago. It’s everywhere. It’s a bad time right now, no matter where we look. Kids can’t go to school, people can’t go to church, you can’t go to the movies. It’s like, what are we doing to ourselves? What’s happening? We’re acting like animals. ...

It’s unfortunate that things are this way, but it’s not going to change unless we do something about it. ... Those who don’t get it, it’s like, how don’t you get it when this is what the issue is? And if you do have a problem with it, have a solution to come along with it. What plan do you have? How do you not try? And what are we supposed to do—just kill each other? It’s a scary time no matter who you are, where you go, what color you are, where you live, honey.

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