We Shall Overcome Analysis

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2.3 Why is the role of music decisive in the Civil Rights Movement? “We Shall Overcome” is what some people consider to be the soundtrack of the Civil Rights Movement. As Pete Seeger explains in his book Everybody Says Freedom, it was born in the South as a gospel hymn, where it was called “It’ll Be All Right” and sung in black churches. It travelled throughout the South until it arrived to Pete Seeger and Guy Carawan, who made it popular. In 1958, Pete Seeger performed it in front of Martin Luther King Jr. Two year later, Guy Carawan sang it at the founding convention of SNCC in North Carolina, making it the unofficial soundtrack of the movement (Seeger 8). As Martin Luther King listened to the song, he said: “We shall overcome. That song really sticks with you, doesn’t it?” (Reiser and Seeger 8) As Andrea L. Dennis explains, songs like “We Shall Overcome” “unified and empowered…show more content…
Even though this was not a protest song sung in demonstrations or marches, it delivered the message of oppression and anger, fear, and sadness that the black community felt. The importance of Billie Holiday’s performance lies on the fact that a great part of their audience, similar to what would happen to Nina Simone, was white. She was one of the first people to turn entertainment into politics and therefore set a precedence for all that would come later. Her music made people aware of the reality of the South. As it has been explained, she first performed her song in the Café Society in New York, but would continue to do so in different stages during her entire career. She had a hard life, and some people claimed that Strange Fruit destroyed her, because it made her relate to the harsh reality of her people over and over again. Insert quote from book. After a very hard life, she did not live to see the revolution of the Civil Rights and died sick in
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