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Music for Social Change

Margaret Mead once said, “A small group of thoughtful people could change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” These artists represent a personal and political courage that has contributed to social justice. Billie Holiday, “Strange Fruit” (1939)“Black bodies swinging in the Southern breeze / strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees.” This lament was a call to end racial inequality at a time when lynchings were commonplace. The song laid a path for future African American musicians to push for civil and human rights, including Nina Simone (“Mississippi Goddam,” 1964), Aretha Franklin (“Think,” 1968), Edwin Starr (“War,” 1969), Jimi Hendrix (the cacophonous antiwar version of “The Star Spangled Banner,” 1969),  and Public Enemy (“Fight the Power,” 1975). Pete Seeger, “Which Side Are You On?” (1967)In the 1960s singers like Bob Dylan (“Masters of War”) and John Lennon (“Give Peace a Chance”) called for social change. Folksinger Pete Seeger recorded “Which Side Are You On?” more than three decades after it was penned by Florence Reece, the wife of a Kentucky union organi …

By John Malkin. Click here for more!

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