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African American Protest Slogans & Songs

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Azizi 23 Sep 07 - 08:34 PM
wysiwyg 23 Sep 07 - 08:53 PM
Azizi 23 Sep 07 - 08:57 PM
Azizi 23 Sep 07 - 09:05 PM
Peace 23 Sep 07 - 09:30 PM
Azizi 23 Sep 07 - 09:34 PM
Azizi 23 Sep 07 - 09:40 PM
Azizi 23 Sep 07 - 09:55 PM
Azizi 23 Sep 07 - 10:00 PM
katlaughing 23 Sep 07 - 10:09 PM
Peace 23 Sep 07 - 10:15 PM
Azizi 23 Sep 07 - 10:16 PM
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Subject: African American Protest Slogans & Songs
From: Azizi
Date: 23 Sep 07 - 08:34 PM

The purpose of this thread is to explore the continuity & changes in protest slogans and songs that are associated with the Black American civil rights movement from the mid 1960s to date.

As part of my contribution to this thread, I plan to include information from online articles, and online photos, photo captions, and videos about the Jena 6 case and other specific cases/events.

However, I am not starting this thread to discuss the facts, allegations, and issues to the Jena Six case or those other cases.

For those interested in discussing the Jena 6 case, here's a link to a Mudcat thread:

BS: The Jena 6 Controversy
thread.cfm?threadid=104934&messages=109

**

For those interested in information about Jena 6, there are also numerous online articles, including these two:

Frequently Asked Questions About The Jena Six
{The Town Talk Alexandria-Pineville, Louisiana}
http://www.thetowntalk.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/99999999/NEWS/70915030

**
Wikipedia-Jena Six
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jena_Six

-snip-

I'll be providing links to articles about the Jena Six case only as citations for those articles, photos, etc that I will be sharing
that address the question of continuity & change in demonstrators' chanting and other practices.

It's my hope that other persons will post to this thread and that those posts will focus on the how protest chants & songs and other customs that may have changed or may have stayed the same.   

Thanks in advance for your posts to this thread!


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Subject: RE: African American Protest Slogans & Songs
From: wysiwyg
Date: 23 Sep 07 - 08:53 PM

Note to site admins:

Given that there is a lengthy discussion on Civil Rights songs in another thread, I hope that thread will be linked with (or combined with) this one.

~S~


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Subject: RE: African American Protest Slogans & Songs
From: Azizi
Date: 23 Sep 07 - 08:57 PM

I was not active in the civil rights movement in the 1960s, though I was a member of my hometown's {Atlantic City, New Jersey} junior {high school} NAACP organization. NAACP=National Association For The Advancement of Colored People.

As a member of that organization, I learned some "freedom songs" and participated in several what I now call "mini-marches". During these marches, members of our group walked in a processional on sidewalks in a "Black" section of that town singing songs like "Aint Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me 'Round" and "Oh, Freedom". I also have memories of standing in a circle at community events and joining hands with the person on either side, and swaying back & forth while singing
"We Shall Overcome." In addition, I have a vague memory of going to a NAACP convention in Newark, New Jersey in 1961 or 1962 and participating in a march in that city in which I joined other teens and adults chanting something or the other-I can't remember what.

The only real civil rights march that I was a part of was the 1963 March on Washington. However, I can't really remember what slogans I chanted or which songs I sang along with the thousands of other people who were there. And I certainly didn't see or hear Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. give his famous "I Have A Dream" speech. What I remember most about the March On Washington was that there were sooo many people there and that the event seemed more festive than anything else, and that a friend of mine and I got lost along trying to find a bathroom. Luckily-I'm not sure how-except by divine intervention-we found our way back to our group.

I'm aware that there are some Mudcat members who were active in the Black American civil rights movement. I'd love it if you would post your memories of the slogans and songs that were used during those times.


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Subject: RE: African American Protest Slogans & Songs
From: Azizi
Date: 23 Sep 07 - 09:05 PM

Here are two Mudcat threads on Civil Rights songs that I have found through the Mudcat search engine:

thread.cfm?threadid=26673#322287
Lyr Req: American Freedom Songs

and

thread.cfm?threadid=26401#325318
Need Help With 60's Protest Songs

**

I had considered posting my comments about the protest slogans to one of these threads, but I decided that the subject that I was interested in exploring and {hopefully} other folks discussing didn't really completely fit either of these topics.

That said, I hope that there will be a listing provided for this thread of related Mudcat threads.

Thanks for that suggestion, Susan.


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Subject: RE: African American Protest Slogans & Songs
From: Peace
Date: 23 Sep 07 - 09:30 PM

Would it make sense to go chronologically? Earliest to latest?


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Subject: RE: African American Protest Slogans & Songs
From: Azizi
Date: 23 Sep 07 - 09:34 PM

In discussing the slogans that are associated with Black American demonstrators, I'd like to start back in the mid 1960s and then go forward to 2007. This list is absolutely not meant to be meant to be definitive. I'm writing it from my memories and from the unscientific research I'be done on the internet and from books I have looked through.

BLACK CIVIL RIGHTS/BLACK NATIONALIST CHANTS

Mid 1960s

"Freedom Now!"

**

Caller- "What do we want?"
Group Response- "Freedom!"
Caller- "When do we want it?"
Group Response- "Now!"

**

Caller-"Say it loud!"
Group Response- "I'm Black And I'm Proud"

excerpts from : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Say_It_Loud_-_I'm_Black_and_I'm_Proud


"Say It Loud - I'm Black and I'm Proud" is a 1968 recording by James Brown. It is notable both as one of Brown's signature songs and as one of the most popular "black power" anthems of the 1960s. The song was released as a two-part single which held the number-one spot on the R&B singles chart for six weeks, and peaked at number ten on the Billboard Hot 100. Both parts of the single were later included on a 1969 album of the same name…

Lyrics
In the song, Brown addresses the prejudice towards blacks in America, and the need for black empowerment. He proclaims that "we done made us a chance to do for ourself/we're tired of beating our head against the wall/workin' for someone else". The song's call-and-response chorus is performed by a group of young children, who respond to Brown's command of "Say it loud" with "I'm black and I'm proud!" Ironically, as the song was recorded in a Los Angeles area suburb, most of the children that Brown was able to recruit for the recording session were actually white and Asian children, with only a few black children included in the ensemble.[1]

The lyrics "We've been 'buked and we've been scorned/We've been treated bad, talked about as sure as you're born" in the first verse of the song paraphrase the spiritual "I've Been 'Buked".

Several other Brown singles from the same era as "Say It Loud - I'm Black and I'm Proud", most notably "I Don't Want Nobody To Give Me Nothing (Open Up The Door, I'll Get It Myself)", explored similar themes of black empowerment and self-reliance.

The song's opening exhortation, "With your bad self", is an example of linguistic reappropriation, and added a new entry to Brown's long list of sobriquets: "His Bad Self.",,,

"Say It Loud - I'm Black and I'm Proud" was an immediate and massive hit for Brown. It became a highlight of his concerts, where audiences would shout out the "I'm black and I'm proud" response section. However, within a year of the release of the studio recording the song disappeared almost completely from his concert repertoire, as Brown was concerned with how its message was being interpreted.

Live recordings of "Say It Loud - I'm Black and I'm Proud" are included on the albums Motherlode (1988) and Say It Live & Loud: Live in Dallas, 1968 (1998)."

Here is a YouTube video of that song:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2VRSAVDlpDI

****

There are 105 viewer comments to date for the James Brown's "Say It Loud I'm black and I'm proud" video clip which was added to YouTube on January 12, 2007 by crabby68. Some of those comments are contentious, and some of them are crude, and sexually explicit. But others praise the singer, discuss the context in which he composed and performed this song, and thank James Brown for his positive influence on American music as well as his positive influence on the self-esteem of countless Black people.


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Subject: RE: African American Protest Slogans & Songs
From: Azizi
Date: 23 Sep 07 - 09:40 PM

Hey, Peace!

Are you reading my mind? :o)

I really want to talk about the "No Justice No Peace" slogan which appears to have been used a lot on Jena 6 protest signage. But I believe that that slogan dates from the early 1990s and so...

But yes, it seems to me that it would make sense to go chronologically-earliest to latest.


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Subject: RE: African American Protest Slogans & Songs
From: Azizi
Date: 23 Sep 07 - 09:55 PM

BLACK CIVIL RIGHTS/BLACK NATIONALIST CHANTS

Oops!


Say It Loud {I'm Black And I'm Proud} should have been listed under the late 1960s

**

Also late 1960s


"Free The Panthers!

http://www.lib.neu.edu/archives/africanamericanactivism/blackpanther.htm


"In 1969, due to two end-of-decade events, the nation's spotlight was aimed on the New Haven, Connecticut, singeing a hole in the Black Panther Party headquarters.

On April 2, 1969, 21 Panther members were arrested and charged with conspiracy to blow up the New York Botanical Gardens and several department stores, and to assassinate police officers. The following month on May 21, the slain body of Alex Rackley, Black Panther Party member, was discovered in a swamp in Middlefield, Connecticut. FBI agents and New Haven Police officials wasted no time and raided the Panther's headquarters, searching for evidence. That same day, eight of the local chapter's members and the party's notorious national chairman, Bobby Seale, were arrested and charged with murder, kidnapping, and conspiracy.

A group of Northeastern University students sympathized with the plight of the Black Panthers and wanted to demonstrate their support to the Boston community. In April 1970, the Black Panther Support Group formed on Northeastern's campus. The organization's mission was to educate students, increasing their understanding of the trials of Bobby Seale, the New York 21, and the Black Panther Party. One of their first actions was to name April 14th Bobby Seale Day. The group also strived to tie Northeastern to its surrounding community by initiating a campaign to provide funds and supplies for a medical center in Roxbury and by proposing to Northeastern's Student Council to start a hot breakfast program for children in Roxbury and Cambridge.

On the afternoon of April 7, the Black Panther Support Group's agenda became evident. Carrying "Free the Panthers" signs and chanting revolutionary slogans, 70 Northeastern students marched from Krentzman Quad through downtown Boston to Post Office Square, the city-wide protest's first meeting point. There, the students were joined by 1,930 other protesters who also wished to demonstrate support for the Black Panthers during the New Haven murder trials.

-snip-

**

"Black Power!

See this excerpt from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Power

"Black Power was a political movement among persons of African descent throughout the world, though it is often associated primarily with African Americans in the United States. Most prominent in the late 1960s and early 1970s, the movement emphasized racial pride and the creation of black political and cultural institutions to nurture and promote black collective interests, advance black values, and secure black autonomy.

The first person to use the term "Black Power" in a political context was Robert F. Williams, an NAACP chapter president, writer, and publisher of the 1950s and 1960s.[citation needed] However the first usage of "Black Power" as a slogan is generally credited to Mukasa Dada (then known as Willie Ricks) and Stokely Carmichael, both organizers and spokespersons for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC)."


**

Caller-"Ungawa" *
Response- "Black Powa"

* "Ungawa" or "Umgawa" or some such word was meant to be an imitation of what we {Black Americans} thought was how African language. However, I don't think it was meant to be insulting...I think we considered it a creative, light hearted exercise in rhyming. "Powa" rhymed with the "gah-wah" ending of the made up word "Ungawa".


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Subject: RE: African American Protest Slogans & Songs
From: Azizi
Date: 23 Sep 07 - 10:00 PM

BLACK CIVIL RIGHTS/BLACK NATIONALIST CHANTS

1970s

"Power To The People!"

from http://www.scribd.com/doc/92443/The-Black-Panthers

"In 1965, with the death of Malcolm X, emerged a Civil Rights group known as the Black Panther Party. The Black Panthers initially rejected the notion of peaceful protest like that of the SNCC, and instead advocated a more aggressive approach. The founders, Bobby Seale and Huey P. Newton, were African American residents of Oakland, California. They both rooted the Panther's ideals in Socialism During it's founding, the group laid out what is known as the 10 Point Program. This program was a form of mission statement on the behalf of the Black Panthers. It called for decent housing, equal employment opportunities, decent education, free health care, an end to police brutality, fair trial by jury, and last but not least a general sense of justice….

Although the Panther's were originally rooted in the belief of black nationalism and only accepted blacks into their organization, they encouraged other oppressed nationalities to stand up for themselves by forming their own organizations. In time, the Panthers would change their attitude towards "black nationalism", deeming it racist, and would eventually form alliances with other oppressed peoples. By 1970, a shift had taken place in the Black Panthers. The previously exclusive group of black nationalists now strived for international harmony of all ethnic groups, for the most part at least….

In the beginning, the Black Panthers had adopted "Black Power"(coined by Stokely Carmichael) as their slogan. After the 1970's however, Newton and Seale worked to replace this slogan with "Power To The People", which they believed was more internationalist.

[My italics]


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Subject: RE: African American Protest Slogans & Songs
From: katlaughing
Date: 23 Sep 07 - 10:09 PM

I know of white people from my hometown who lost their lives, victims of murder because they protested/marched down South. I do not care for the chosen term,"Black American civil rights movement." There were people of all races who worked very hard in the civil rights movement.


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Subject: RE: African American Protest Slogans & Songs
From: Peace
Date: 23 Sep 07 - 10:15 PM

Azizi, do you see a tie-in with the start of Motown Records in 1960? (I know they never recorded some of the standards from the Civil Rights Movement, but the 'legitimization' of Black music/groups was important in terms of helping have 'colour' accepted as a part of mainstream life.)


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Subject: RE: African American Protest Slogans & Songs
From: Azizi
Date: 23 Sep 07 - 10:16 PM

I just thought of another Black cultural nationalist chant that I remember saying when I was a member of Committee For Unified Newark {CFUN}. This organization was largely under the leadership of Amiri Baraka [also known as poet, playwright, author LeRoi Jones}

This chant is from the late 1960s:

Caller- "What time is it?"
Group response- ["It's] "Nation Time"


While there were some cultural nationalist groups who were interested in setting up a Black nation within the USA or elsewhere, the Committee for Unified Newark was interested Black people recognizing and developing our nation where we were {are} by building economic institutions,achieving political power, and honoring and developing cultural traditions that help to reinforce group esteem and self-esteem. This was definitely not a hate whitey organization. As a matter of fact one of the group's sayings was that "You can be pro-Black without being anti-White."

I left Northern New Jersey in 1969, and haven't maintained contact with that group or people who had been members of that group. I'm not sure what has happened to that group, it's leaders, or it's former members. But I definitely credit that group for motivating me to learn more about African cultures. I thank them for that.


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Subject: RE: African American Protest Slogans & Songs
From: Peace
Date: 23 Sep 07 - 10:19 PM

Recall too that the Black Panthers (?) used the clenched fist--something I understand originated in the Spanish Civil War--to make a statement without speaking. (1968 Olympics seems to be where it was 'popularized'.)


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Subject: RE: African American Protest Slogans & Songs
From: Azizi
Date: 23 Sep 07 - 10:27 PM

The clenched fist [Black power salute] was very evident in the Sept. 20, 2007 Jena, Louisiana march.

But since you mentioned it, here's a link to information and a photo about the 1968 Olympics Black Power Salute:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1968_Olympics_Black_Power_Salute

Here's an excerpt of that article:

"The Black Power Salute at the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico is a noted civil rights protest.

Certainly one of the most overtly political statements in the 110 year history of the modern Olympic Games, Black American athletes Tommie Smith and John Carlos performed a Black Power salute at the 1968 Olympics.

After completing their 200 metre race on the evening of October 17, 1968, American athlete Smith, who won the race in a then world record time of 19.83 seconds, with Australia's Peter Norman second with a time of 20.06 seconds and American Carlos in third place with a time of 20.10 seconds, went to collect their medals at the podium. The two American athletes received their medals shoeless, but wearing black socks, to represent black poverty. [1] Smith wore a black scarf around his neck to represent black pride [2] and Carlos wore a string of beads, to commemorate black people who had been lynched.[3] All three athletes wore OPHR (Olympic Project for Human Rights) badges, after Norman expressed sympathy with their ideals. Sociologist Harry Edwards, the founder of the OPHR, had urged black athletes to boycott the games; reportedly, the actions of Smith and Carlos on October 17, 1968, were inspired by Edwards' arguments.[4]

Carlos had forgotten his black gloves, but Norman suggested that they share Smith's pair, with Smith wearing the right glove and Carlos the left. When the Star Spangled Banner played, Smith and Carlos delivered the salute with heads bowed, a gesture which became front page news around the world. As they left the podium they were booed by the crowd.[5] Smith later said "If I win, I am American, not a black American. But if I did something bad, then they would say I am a Negro. We are black and we are proud of being black. Black America will understand what we did tonight."


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Subject: RE: African American Protest Slogans & Songs
From: Azizi
Date: 23 Sep 07 - 10:42 PM

kat, you wrote:

There were people of all races who worked very hard in the civil rights movement.

Very true. I acknowledge this and respect & honor all people regardless of their race and ethnicity who were {and are} active in and supportive of the African American civil rights movement.

I choose to use the term "Black Civil Rights Movement". You may use whichever term you want to for this movement. My use of this term does not mean that only Black Americans were {are}involved in or benefited {benefit} by this movement.


Fwiw, there's a wikipedia article which gives this movement the name "African American Civil RIghts Movement":

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Civil_Rights_Movement_(1955-1968)

Here is an excerpt from that article:

"The African-American Civil Rights Movement (1955-1968) refers to the reform movements in the United States aimed at abolishing racial discrimination of African Americans; this article covers the phase of the movement between 1954 and 1968, particularly in the South. By 1966, the emergence of the Black Power Movement, which lasted roughly from 1966 to 1975, enlarged and gradually eclipsed the aims of the Civil Rights Movement to include racial dignity, economic and political self-sufficiency, and freedom from White authority."...


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Subject: RE: African American Protest Slogans & Songs
From: Azizi
Date: 23 Sep 07 - 11:11 PM

BLACK CIVIL RIGHTS/BLACK NATIONALIST CHANTS

1980s ??

I'm not sure what Black power or Black civil rights slogans were chanted during the 1980s.

The saying "Don't believe The hype" comes to mind. That saying comes from a late 1980s? recording by the rap group Public Enemy. Maybe this counts as a protest chant. I'm not sure.

1990s

"No justice, No peace"

1992-I'm not sure whether this slogan was used before the acauittal of the four policemen who were videotaped beating Rodney King. However, "no justice, no peace" certainly was popularized as a referent to that April 29, 1992 acquittal. See this wikipedia article about Rodney King and the Los Angeles riot {which is also known as the Los Angeles "rebellion"} which was triggered by that acquittal.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rodney_King

**

"No justice, no peace" was further popularized as a protest slogan during the demonstrations against the acquital of the two Detroit, Michigan policemen who were acquitted in the Nove 5, 1992 Malice Green
case.

Also, see this excerpt which was largely written in support of the two policemen:

http://www.larrynevers.com/nojustice.htm

"The demonstrations in Detroit [Michigan] after the [Malice] Green incident, and the chants of "No Justice No Peace," rang out on every T.V. network in the nation. * Anytime any human being dies, it is indeed a sad event. When that death occurs under circumstances such as was the case here, then of course it should be investigated to the fullest extent. That investigation should not be influenced by or for political considerations. Impartiality must by present, to protect all involved. The officers, the victim and indeed, the community.

It has a chilling effect on every community in this country, because it adds to a significant number of other politically correct and racially charged cases that involve law enforcement officers all over the country. It causes police officers to hesitate to do their jobs and as we all know hesitation kills. When police officers no longer feel they can do their jobs without the fear of becoming political scapegoats, the ultimate victims will be the communities they serve. No justice for Walter Budzyn and Larry Nevers ultimately means no justice for anyone at all.

The next time you hear those demonstration chants, listen closely because they may sound different. You may hear "NO JUSTICE, NO POLICE."

-snip-
*my italics


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Subject: RE: African American Protest Slogans & Songs
From: Azizi
Date: 23 Sep 07 - 11:34 PM

BLACK CIVIL RIGHTS/BLACK NATIONALIST CHANTS

2007 Jena Six marches {In Louisiana and elsewhere} on September 21, 2007

These are the slogans that reporters indicated the Jena 6 marchers chanted or that I noticed on photographs and videos were written on on signs carried by the marchers or were written on their tee shirts:


"Free Jena 6" or "Free The Jena 6" [These were by far the most widely used slogans]

**

"No Justice. No Peace" [This slogan was next in prominence to "Free Jena Six"]

**

"No justice no peace no racist police"

**

"Blacks Protests N'Justice"   

**

"They stood for us now we stand for them
Free Jena 6"

**

"non-violence or non-existence"


-snip-

In the more than 20 articles and slide show/videos that I've read about the Sept. 21, 2007 march in Jena, Louisiana and other marches throughout the USA in support of that main demonstration, there was no mention of protest songs or freedom songs/

Is singing no longer a part of African American protest marches?


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Subject: RE: African American Protest Slogans & Songs
From: Azizi
Date: 24 Sep 07 - 12:17 AM

Let me reprhase that queation, is singing no longer a part of protest marches that are composed of mostly African American people?

I've made this change in phrasing since some non-African Americans took part in the Jena 6 march in Jena Louisiana and elsewhere.

However, reports I read and the photos/video confirm that the overwhelming majority of the people who participated in the Jena Louisiana march were Black people.

And, it seems to me, that the use of adapted spirituals during the 1960s civil rights movement was a result of Black cultural traditions. Therefore, my question is have those traditions changed with regard to protest marching?

Nowadays, is chanting still "in", but singing too old school?


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Subject: RE: African American Protest Slogans & Songs
From: Azizi
Date: 24 Sep 07 - 08:14 AM

Correction:

The Jena 6 march {also called "rally"} was held on September 20, 2007.

**

Another sign that I noted in photos about the Jena, Louisiana march was "Equality".

**

See this excerpt from a September 21, 2007 Wshington Post article which mentions two other slogans that were used in this march:

"The buses began arriving in Jena hours before dawn, the travelers stepping out stiff, yawning and bleary-eyed. Most wore black T-shirts with the message "Stop the criminalization of our children" and "What is the color of justice?"".*

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/09/20/AR2007092000259.html?hpid=topnews


* [My italics]

-snip-

I'm not sure if marchers chanted those tee shirt slogans or the "equality" sign slogan.

I've read that putting slogans on tee shirts first happened in the early 1980s. Tee shirt/sweat shirt signage is an additional way of communicating one's position on issues that protestors in the 1960s, and 1970s didn't have.


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Subject: RE: African American Protest Slogans & Songs
From: Azizi
Date: 24 Sep 07 - 06:29 PM

More observations about the Jena 6 march:

Both the red, white, and blue American flag and the red, black, and gree Pan-African flag flag can be seen in the photos of the Jena, Louisiana march. The African American flag is made up of three equal horizontal bands of red, black, and green.

Even though this flag was first adopted by an African American nationalist group in 1920, few Black Americans in the 1960s knew about this flag. Now the colors of red, black, and green are widely known as symbols of African American culture. Red, black, and green are also associated with the African American holiday Kwanzaa/

Of course, these colors work cn more than one level, since red and green are colors that are closely associated with Christmas, which most Christians in the USA celebrate the day before the 7 day Kwanzaa holiday begins. Thus, in some African American homes, the red & green Christmas ornaments can also serve as Kwanzaa ornaments, especially if those ornaments have kente cloth designs {as, since the 1970s, "kente cloth" and anything with kente cloth designs have become ubiquitous symbols of pride in African culture for African Americans and for other people of the African Diaspora.

**

As a sign of Black solidarity, on September 20, 2007 all Jena 6 marchers {and all Black Americans throughout the USA} were encouraged to wear either all black or black shirts {and pants or skirts of another color}. I think this is a change from the mid 1960s in how protest marches or protest rallies are being conceptualized and organized. As I mentioned before, I've never been active in protest marches-civil rights or otherwise. And while the clothes a person or groups of people wear do make a statement, it seems to me that what color clothes one wore probably wasn't high on the list of do's and don'ts for protestors during the mid 1960s.


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Subject: RE: African American Protest Slogans & Songs
From: Azizi
Date: 24 Sep 07 - 07:46 PM

Here's some random thoughts about the Jena 6 slogans:

"Free [the] Jena 6" means "release them from jail {or prison}".

"Free ___" has been used many times by African American groups and other groups protesting what they consider to be the unjust incarceration of an individual or individuals. See the reference to "free the panthers" in my 23 Sep 07 - 10:00 PM post to this thread. Also see the African American political blog http://www.colorofchange.org/campaigns.html for other examples of "free ___" mobilizations efforts.

**

"No Justice. No Peace"
This slogan means "Until there is justice, people will agitate for changes and there will be no peace."

Or it means "Until there is justice, people will raise a rukus and there will be no peace."

Or it means if there is no justice [for all], there will be no peace [around here].

In any event, the succient alliterative pattern of the word "no" + a desired condition and then the second "no" + a desired condition is what makes this slogan so powerful.

I think that the people who chanted or who created the signage "no justice, no peace, no racist police" got the alliteration part of this slogan, but didn't get that the first two conditions are desired but the third one is definitely not desired.

**
"Blacks Protests N'Justice"   
I like how hip-hop spelling has worked its way into slogan writing.
"N'Justice" of course means "injustice". With what I call "hip hop languaging" it's not just how a word is pronounced, it's how it looks. Punctuation marks and clipped letters enhance the look of a word {and personal names} while retaining the pronunciation, and, in some cases, getting even closer to how a word is actually pronounced.
Since the first hip hop record came out in the late 1970s, slogans using hip hop stylin is another way that African American protest slogans have changed since the mid 1960s.

**
"They stood for us now we stand for them
Free Jena 6"

With the reminder that this thread is not meant to be a forum for the discussion of the Jena 6 case, the "stand up/stood up" phrasing of this slogan reminds me of the Christian song Stand Up, Stand Up, for Jesus. I'm particularly referring to both the title, the refrain, and this verse:

Stand up, stand up for Jesus,
The trumpet call obey;
Forth to the mighty conflict,
In this His glorious day!
Ye that are men, now serve Him
Against unnumbered foes;
Let courage rise with danger
And strength to strength oppose.

-snip-

Again, some will debate whether the Jena 6 as a group or as individuals stood up in the face of unnumbered foes or whether their cause [of unequal treatment within the law] should be supported {that is that people should "stand up for them"]. However, again there's another Mudcat thread for that discussion.

**

"non-violence or non-existence"

This is another slogan that uses alliteration {or whatever this literary pattern is called}. Imo, it's not as effective or powerful as the "No Justice. No Peace" slogan, perhaps because of the circumstances of the Jena 6 case, or just because I'm not sure what is meant by the slogan. I suppose the people who held that sign or had that sign on their tee shirts meant something like "Give me liberty or give me death". Now there's an effective, powerful slogan...

**

"Equality"
I believe that "Equality" is a shorthand way of saying "equality under the law".

It's interesting to me that in the mid 1960s, "Freedom Now!" was probably the most widely used chant in the African American civil rights movement. The word "freedom" worked on many levels since that word harkened back to African Americans' emancipation from slavery and that word also expressed the desire, nay the demand for Black folks and other people of color to be free from racial oppression.

But it seems to me that "freedom" is too abstract a concept in the 21st century. I think that Equality [under the law] and "equal treatment of individuals and groups by those in authority" is what we should be striving for rather than Freedom.

Or maybe "Equality!" is just the modern way of saying "Freedom!"


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Subject: RE: African American Protest Slogans & Songs
From: katlaughing
Date: 25 Sep 07 - 02:34 PM

Azizi, why don't you put all of this in a blog; it's the way it reads.


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Subject: RE: African American Protest Slogans & Songs
From: Peace
Date: 25 Sep 07 - 03:15 PM

So don't read it.


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Subject: RE: African American Protest Slogans & Songs
From: Jeri
Date: 25 Sep 07 - 06:49 PM

I agree - it's easy enough to ignore. I have some fairly strong objections to calling it the "Black American civil Rights movement".

I believe in giving credit when it's due, but lots of people sang the songs and they worked damned hard for DEsegregation and now, the music should be segregated?! I find the thread a bit offensive for that reason as well as another I don't feel is worth mentioning. I know Azizi didn't mean to convey what I feel and I also know I've also pissed people off accidentally, so I'll just stop with this.

Before I go back to lurking, 'ungawa' is a Swahili word that means 'di di mao', which means, 'let's move it'.


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Subject: RE: African American Protest Slogans & Songs
From: Jeri
Date: 25 Sep 07 - 08:21 PM

So I'd 'known' that bit about 'ungawa' for years and years, but apparently the word was invented for the Tarzan TV show. Although some of the words he spoke WERE Swahili, 'ungawa' wasn't. It was a general-purpose command, like 'make it so'. Find cool Swahili words here.


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Subject: RE: African American Protest Slogans & Songs
From: Kent Davis
Date: 25 Sep 07 - 10:59 PM

Thanks for an interesting thread.
I've been thinking about why 60s-style protest songs have been (apparently) scarce in recent protest marches, while chants have (apparently) been common. Two possible reasons come to mind:
1. In the 60s, at least in the Jim Crow South, a major purpose of the songs was to encourage the African Americans to RESIST (bad) laws. Now the purpose of protests is more typically to encourage WHITE Americans to STOP resisting (good) laws. Perhaps songs are better at encouraging the singers, and chants are better for shaming those listening.
2. In the 60s, protests were often in support of African Americans who had been arrested, but whose crimes were nothing that was inherently criminal. Instead they had committed inherently innocent acts (like riding in the front of the bus) that had been made into crimes by bad laws. In the last two decades, protests have often been "in support of" African Americans who were arrested for inherently criminal acts. (I put the phrase "in support of" in quotes because no one, I hope, is truly "in support of" actions like Mychal Bell's. Rather, the protests were in support of treating all crimes with an appropriate degree of severity, regardless of the skin color of the criminal.)
If one is singing in support of, say, Rosa Parks, then a song derived from a Spiritual such as "We Shall Overcome" might seem right. If one were to try singing "We Shall Overcome" in response to, say, the beating of Rodney King, I suspect it would ring hollow. One would not wish to portray a harshly-treated criminal as if he were a martyr.
What do you think?
Kent


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Subject: RE: African American Protest Slogans & Songs
From: Rowan
Date: 25 Sep 07 - 11:25 PM

Definitely an interesting thread. And I gather that today is the 50th anniversary of the Little Rock Nine's escorted entrance to Central High School. I remember the event stirring quite a bit of interest at my Oz high School, which had quite a few Colombo Plan students at that time.

Cheers, Rowan


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Subject: RE: African American Protest Slogans & Songs
From: wysiwyg
Date: 26 Sep 07 - 09:08 AM

Rowan, what was the Colombo Plan?

~Susan


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Subject: RE: African American Protest Slogans & Songs
From: Rowan
Date: 26 Sep 07 - 06:43 PM

G'day Susan,
After WWII the remnants of the various colonial era empires (mostly British but also the newly independent Indonesia) collaborated on a development scheme whereby the more affluent entities provided assistance to the less affluent ones. In the same way that international agreements take their name from where they were formally signed by Heads of Govt (HoGs, for short), this one, signed off in Colombo, became known as the Colombo Plan. The component that most in Oz would remember or have heard of involved the Oz govt providing scholarships to students from India, Ceylon (as it was at the time), Malaya (ditto), SIngapore, Indonesia and Fiji; there may have been others but these are the ones I remember. The scholarships supported students' attendance at high school (from what Americans would call "Middle School", to Year 12), places like RMIT (now a uni and not unlike MIT or CalTech) and university. They were expected to return to their home country and spread their skills to accelarate their homeland's development.

Northcote High, where I was a student, was one of (what was then called) the Central Zone high schools in Melbourne, where the quality of education was regarded as exemplary and so had quite a few Colombo Plan students. In that era and that locality, Colombo Plan students were the only non-angloceltic people we "saw"*. One of them, a Fijian Indian, was a particular mate of mine.

* I write "saw" advisedly, as Aboriginal people were not noticed by those of us from what anthropologists might call "the dominant community". My Religious Instruction teacher was a man who we all took pride in knowing, as he was "famous"; he was a star in the Fitzroy Football Team (Premier League, Australian Rules) and he taught us RI!!!. Many years later, Pastor Doug Nicholls became Governor of South Australia, the first Aboriginal person to reach such heights, and it was somewhere in between that I realised the extent of my (and my community's) blindness; Northcote and Fitzroy had always been centres for the Aboriginal community in Melbourne and still are. I have been lucky enough to have been given the opportunity to learn to see.

Cheers, Rowan


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Subject: RE: African American Protest Slogans & Songs
From: wysiwyg
Date: 27 Sep 07 - 09:03 AM

Rowan, that was a wonderfully clear and moving sketch of a number of interwoven complexities-- you not only have learned how to SEE, but to SAY, and I thank you.

~Susan


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Subject: RE: African American Protest Slogans & Songs
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 28 Sep 07 - 06:31 AM

Thread drift, but hopefully appropriate:

Black history museum opens online

[quote]
The Associated Press
Updated: 12:25 p.m. CT Sept 26, 2007

WASHINGTON - The Smithsonian Institution's museum dedicated to black history and culture launches this week with an interactive Web site — long before its building opens for visitors on the National Mall.

Social-networking technology donated by IBM Corp. will allow visitors to help produce content for future exhibits at the National Museum of African American History and Culture. Almost anything is fair game — long essays, short vignettes of memories or recorded oral histories. The museum plans to add video capabilities in the future.

The museum was to announce the site's debut Wednesday.

"The culture of the African American experience ... is too important to wait five or 10 years until the building is open," said Lonnie Bunch, the museum's founding director. "I wanted people to know that from the day I was hired, this museum exists."

Museum staff will monitor the site for historical accuracy, and technical filters will block racist or inappropriate comments, said Bunch, adding that the site is really a "virtual museum" and a new source of research for curators and scholars.
[endquote]

More at the link.

The direct link to the museum site is:

the National Museum of African American History and Culture

John


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Subject: RE: African American Protest Slogans & Songs
From: sian, west wales
Date: 04 Oct 07 - 06:45 AM

I was just thinking that the protests of the '60s in the USA were certainly fuel for protest planning in Wales - mostly linked with independence or legislative devolution for Wales or Welsh language rights. I wasn't here at the time so I don't know what specific songs were used, although Dafydd Iwan certainly made his translation/ adaptation of "This Land is Your Land" hugely popular (and it remains so to this day). That may not 'count'; I don't know if it played any role in African American protests.

Welsh poet Gwyn Thomas translated the "I have a dream" speech which was set to music by Dr Meredydd Evans, an active nationalist and language campaigner as well as one of the great song tradition bearers of Wales. It was then made hugely popular by singer Heather Jones.

And the clenched fist salute is often seen at Welsh rock and 'pop' festivals - usually late at night, involving a fair bit of alcohol, and by people who are probably too busy in their every-day lives to pull their fingers out and do something constructive for the cause in question. Possibly don't even vote. Weekend rebels.

Singing was certainly a big part of the Greenham Common community in Britain, protesting at the American air base. I wonder if songs are not so prevalent in marches any more because of the sound bite culture of the media - you can pack a lot of message into a few seconds of a chant where no news report would be long enough to include enough of a song to get a message across. Perhaps it could even be argued that in the '60s and '70s songs would never have been well-known if it was just a matter of hearing them on marches; I learned the ones I know because my 'pop' music of the day was Baez, Collins, etc. Might even include Gordon Lightfoot, as "Black day in July" was big with my crowd; possibly not so much so in the States - if memory serves, it was banned, at least in some USA Media?

sian


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Subject: RE: African American Protest Slogans & Songs
From: GUEST,.gargoyle
Date: 04 Oct 07 - 06:57 AM

Nice job Azzizi.

Sincerely
Gargoyle


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Subject: RE: African American Protest Slogans & Songs
From: topical tom
Date: 04 Oct 07 - 06:05 PM

One well-known slogan in a song is "keep your eyes on the prize,hold on ".I well remember this being sung so well by Guy Carawan, a prominent figure in the civil rights movement.I first heard it sung by Guy at a folk festival in Kingsland Bay State Park, on Lake champlain in Vermont.I had heard him sing at Bishop's Unvivesity 40 years before!As Utah Philips humorously quipped he was a "   walking suppository of
knowledge " about the history of that song.


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Subject: RE: African American Protest Slogans & Songs
From: M.Ted
Date: 05 Oct 07 - 01:24 AM

I think it is important to note that the Civil Rights movement was a coordinated, coopertive effort, and that the songs, slogans, and tactics for each the marches were all carefully thought out--I think that there is little awareness now that many people worked very hard to create the music that was always at the center of the movement--there is a great documentary on the song, "We Shall Overcome" that discusses this--


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Subject: RE: African American Protest Slogans & Songs
From: sian, west wales
Date: 05 Oct 07 - 04:49 AM

Any ideas how other movements may have influenced these protest chants (and songs)? i.e. labo(u)r movements / unions ?

sian


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Subject: RE: African American Protest Slogans & Songs
From: M.Ted
Date: 05 Oct 07 - 08:11 AM

It has always been my impression that the use of singing and chanting, as well as the marches, sit-ins and other protest activities were drawn directly from the labor movement. Highlander Folk School played a critical role in training labor activists in the 30's and 40's and it went on to train the civil rights activists, such as Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks, and Stokely Carmichael in the 50's and 60's--

Guy Carawan was there, as was Pete Seeger, and they worked with Zilphia Horton, who was a folklorist/labor activist, and who had been collecting songs and adapting them for use in the movement since the 30's--

The person who really knows about this all is Frank Hamilton--who was there---


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Subject: RE: African American Protest Slogans & Songs
From: Azizi
Date: 05 Oct 07 - 10:36 AM

Thanks to all who have posted on this thread.

Kent Davis, I found your post to be particularly thought provoking. I largely agree with your points that protest songs may be scarcer now than in the 1960s because the reasonss for the protests are different now.

I believe that the spirituals-which as M Ted has written above-were adapted first by the labor movement-would be less effective in addresssing the more subtle issues of the uneven and harsher use of the criminal justice system for Black people than for White people.
It probably is much easier to sing "we'll go to jail/jail over bail" than "end jim crow [in]justice in Jena" [which was the message written on signs held by some protestors at the September 20, 2007 Jena 6 rally].

But maybe protest songs are not integral to African American protest movements now as they were in the 1960s because the reason why the songs were sung then is not operational now. It seems to me that these adapted spirituals were sung by protestors during marches, during church and community services before the actual protest, and while protestors were in jail to boost their morale, to forge unity, to motivate, encourage, strengthen resolve, provide emotional support, and provide solace to those protestors. The Black community at large in the towns where the protestors were active needed the emotional support and motivation, strengthening of resolve etc that these songs provided since retribution for the protestors' action could be leveled against them as well as against the protestors. Also, the community was asked to support the protestors by boycotting buses and stores etc-which was another hardship for them.

With the probably exception of the families of the Jena 6 students, I wonder how much danger and negative consequences the Jena 6 protestors have had to face on that day and as a result of their participation in that rally. My sense in that the 30,000 or more people who participated in the Jena 6 rally in Louisiana and those who participated in rallies in support of the Jena 6 throughout the USA knew that they weren't in imminent risk of being jailed, or being beated by police wielding billy clubs. And these contemporary marchers didn't need to sing to keep their courage up because they weren't in danger of being attacked by police dogs and pulmetted by water from fire hoses. Also, the modern day civil rights protestors probably didn't face the possible lost of their jobs or their lives as was the case with the 1960s freedom riders and civil rights protestors in the deep South.

The civil rights songs helped to keep up people's spirits. From my reading about the Jena 6 rally, the spirits of people were already up. For instance, I've read descriptions of the mood of that event was festive.

That's the same mood that I remember feeling when I participated in the 1963 March On Washington.

I'm not discounting the power of the positive energy that is generated and felt by folks marching together for a cause. But it seems to me that civil rights songs were most needed during the smaller marches when people faced real danger and needed the energy that those songs gave.


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Subject: RE: African American Protest Slogans & Songs
From: Azizi
Date: 05 Oct 07 - 10:45 AM

Here's some websites which contain lyrics of freedom songs. These websites also contain commentary about the role of songs in the civil rights movement or commentary about the songs themselves:

http://www.historynow.org/06_2006/interactive.html
Songs Of The Civil Rights Movement

**
http://folkmusic.about.com/od/toptens/tp/CivilRightsSong.htm
Top 10 Civil Rights Songs

**

http://www.cocojams.com/freedom_songs.htm
Civil Rights Songs


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Subject: RE: African American Protest Slogans & Songs
From: Peace
Date: 05 Oct 07 - 11:50 AM

Good one, Azizi.


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Subject: RE: African American Protest Slogans & Songs
From: Rowan
Date: 05 Oct 07 - 08:53 PM

Azizi's comment

"It seems to me that these adapted spirituals were sung by protestors during marches, during church and community services before the actual protest, and while protestors were in jail to boost their morale, to forge unity, to motivate, encourage, strengthen resolve, provide emotional support, and provide solace to those protestors"

strikes a chord with some research I recall hearing discussed recently and I seem to recall it appearing in a Mudcat thread on whistling.

The singing that Azizi describes is the glue that forms and maintains a community. Many communities over at least the last millenium have been formed and maintained by people singing together and quite a few distinguish themselves from other groups (with whom they share so many similarities that they might all "be" one community) on the basis of what and how they sing together.

Singing by workers at rallies, strikes, pickets etc seems to have always been part of the Australian industrial landscape (and those of most English-speaking countries, I suspect) for a long time but, in recent years, the songs seem largely to have been replaced by chants. On hypothesised reason has been the gradual rise in emphasis on the individual as a singular entity rather than as part of a group. Mudcatters might be a biassed population sample, as many of us get into group singing and other forms of group music but, on a recent visit to Sydney I was fascinated to observe that more than 50% of the people walking through the streets were wearing earphones with mp3 players (mostly iPods) attached.

To me, this seems to be just the extension of music (and thus singing) as 'music for the person' rather than 'music of the people" and it has no 'automatic engagement' component that would stir the listener out of being a passive consumer into becoming an actively contributing participant.

But I'll keep on singing.

Cheers, Rowan


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Subject: RE: African American Protest Slogans & Songs
From: Azizi
Date: 06 Oct 07 - 01:01 AM

Those are interesting points, Rowan.

I was going to write that in my opinion, it is very rare to see and hear African American adults singing any songs outdoors as individuals or as a group in settings other than singing to themselves along with an Ipod or CD, or singing publicly during a church service as part of the choir, or along with the choir, or during congregational songs; or at a professional concert {singing along with the artist/s}, or at a karoake bar {as the singer/s at whose turn it is on the microphone or singing along with the karoake singer}.

I have written on another Mudcat thread that based on my direct and indirect experiences, I don't believe that African Americans have the adult tradition of non-religious singalongs groups in nightclubs and/or at homes and indoor/outdoor community functions as it appears to be the case from the comments of other Mudcatters in the USA, Great Britain and elsewhere.

I am old enough to recall-as a teenager-hearing and observing {African American} men singing Doo Wop on street corners. I suppose some women did too, but if so I don't recall them doing so. But that was a long time ago. I don't see any men or women or teens singing or even rapping on street corners or any where else outside except as performers in formal street festivals.

In the African American community-and apparently elsewhere too, judging from my observations and Rowan's remarks, to a large degree adult singing has been reserved for professionals. Adults singing in public-indoors or outdoors-appears to be done on specific limited occassions. And marches and demonstrations don't appear to be one of these occassions. For adults to sing in public other than during those socially proscribed times would be considered to be embarrasing. And most folks don't want to be embarrassed.


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Subject: RE: African American Protest Slogans & Songs
From: Azizi
Date: 06 Oct 07 - 01:22 AM

Also, I would not be at all surprised if the overwhelming marjority of Black adults nowadays were unfamiliar with the words and tunes of freedom songs {civil rights songs} such as those posted on my website Cocojams

These songs aren't taught in schools or community centers. And most of them-or the original spirituals from which many were adapted-aren't usually sung in church. And these songs aren't featured on the radio or television music stations. So how are folks supposed to learn them?

And contrary to some commonly held opinions, most of the freedom songs aren't call & response songs. I mention this because it's easier to pick up the response part of these songs since the lyrics repeat themselves. But that is beside my point that I bet that many Black people don't know these words or tunes in the first place.

**

It just occurs to me that even the term "freedom song" is outdated. I get the sense that singing about freedom might be perceived by Black people as asking for freedom rather than demanding it ["it" meaning equality and justice]. It also occurs to me that singing about "freedom" has an old school Uncle Tomish flava to it despite the fact that 1960s civil rights demonstrators were the opposites of Uncle Toms and Aunt Jeminas.

This is just my sense. Obviously, I'm speaking only for myself and not as any spokesperson for any Black group let along for all 20 million plus African American people.


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Subject: RE: African American Protest Slogans & Songs
From: Azizi
Date: 06 Oct 07 - 01:27 AM

Btw, I know that during 1960s civil rights marches, these freedom songs were also sung by non-Black people.

However, my comments about whether these songs are known nowadays are purposely limited to those people I am most familiar with-African Americans.


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Subject: RE: African American Protest Slogans & Songs
From: M.Ted
Date: 06 Oct 07 - 10:16 PM

Songs and singing were used by civil rights activists in the 60's as a way of bringing people together--there is no singing today simply because it's not one of the organizing tools that today's activists use--

I think that both the civil rights movement and the anti-war movement in the present time could use a lot of unifying-the reason for this is not because people don't sing together, but it certainly doesn't help--

I know that a lot of these songs are still known by African-Americans, because I have heard them sung-- Keep in mind that most of the civil rights songs became known because they were used in the movement, so it is likely that many more people know them now than knew them then, simply because they have been heard for fifty years, and they continue to be heard.


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Subject: RE: African American Protest Slogans & Songs
From: M.Ted
Date: 07 Oct 07 - 10:38 PM

Incidentally, a lot of the songs were used in "call and response" style--this made them easy to teach while they were being sung--there are a good number of live recordings from the "good old days" in which songs are taught to the audience during a performance--this side of the audience sings "this little light of mine" and this side sings "I'm gonna let it shine", for example.

The best songs used powerful images, simply expressed, with lots of repetition. There weren't very many of them, but they were easy to learn, and easy to sing along with the first time you heard them. In fact, they were hard to forget--


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Subject: RE: African American Protest Slogans & Songs
From: Azizi
Date: 08 Oct 07 - 12:13 AM

M Ted, I appreciate your comments.

I did not mean to imply that civil rights songs from the 1960s aren't known at all nowadays. I believe that some of them are better known than others, oerhaps because they were included in records or CDs, or videos or television shows, etc etc etc.

The religious versions of some civil rights songs are probably still sung at churches {such as "I'll Be Alright" which is the bases for "We Will Overcome". Or at least I hope that song is still sung in church. Tell you the truth, I haven't heard it sung that much in church for a long while...but then again I'm not a regular church goer so....

Also, a civil rights songs-such as "This Little Light Of Mine" have been adopted as children's songs, so it is still known, but I wonder if most people associate that song with the civil rights movement.
Btw, M Ted, t's interesting that you mention the call & response pattern of this song. Perhaps "This Little Light Of Mine" was originally composed as a call & response song, but I've never heard it sung with a call and response pattern. It's interesting how many call & response songs are sung in unison, now...But that's a whole 'nuther subject.

And Btw2, M Ted, you wrote "I know that a lot of these songs are still known by African-Americans, because I have heard them sung". I'm curious where {on which occassions} and when {years} did you hear them sung. The only time that I've heard "We Will Overcome" sung in the public was during a Martin Luther King Jr holiday program. And yes, it was an interracial gathering. And yes, people held hands and swayed back in forth with the music like it was done in the 1960s. But, my point is that this rendition of the song is more an exception and not the rule. But, yeah, people either knew the song or they caught on to the words easily [since the leader oft that song "lined" the verse by saying something like "We are not afraid", so the other singers would know that was the next verse of the song they were supposed to sing].

I wonder if there anyone's done a survey to find out how familiar people are with civil rights songs. I still have a sense that people aren't that familiar with a great many of these songs {Black people, White people, Green people-I don't mean the Green political party, I mean the Martians who live among us :o}

However, I have no way of proving this.
{that Martians live among us and a lot of folks regardless of race don't know these civil rights songs.


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Subject: RE: African American Protest Slogans & Songs
From: Azizi
Date: 08 Oct 07 - 12:21 AM

Fwiw, here's the titles of civil rights songs {which I also call "freedom songs"} whose lyrics I've posted on my website:

Aint Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me 'Round

Certainly Lord

Hold On {also known as "Keep Your Eye On The Prize"}

If You Miss Me At The Back Of The Bus

I'm Gonna Sit At The Welcome Table

I'm On My Way {to [the] freedom land}

I Woke Up This Mornin' {with my mind on freedom}

Lift Every Voice And Sing -the African American national anthem

Maching 'Round Selma

No More Auction Block For Me {Many Thousands Gone}

Oh, Freedom

We Shall Not Be Moved

We Shall Overcome


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Subject: RE: African American Protest Slogans & Songs
From: Azizi
Date: 08 Oct 07 - 12:27 AM

Here's some YouTube video links to civil rights songs:

Ruthie Foster - Woke Up This Mornin'
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EVRcMECcI2E


****
Joan Baez - We Want Our Freedom Now - We Shall Overcome
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BHTjK1IyvJM


****

Joan Baez -Marching up to freedom land
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-np4Ke4o94E&NR=1


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Subject: RE: African American Protest Slogans & Songs
From: Azizi
Date: 08 Oct 07 - 07:23 AM

M.Ted, it's sometimes difficult to convey the spirit and intention of words over the internet. This morning, I re-read my questions to you about where and when you had heard African Americans singing civil rights songs and am concerned that you might have taken exception to the questions or how I phrased them.

I'm writing this post to try to convey that I was asking those questions in the spirit of an {albeit] amateur folklorist with the intent of eliciting demographical information that may be helpful in fleshing out a sense of when, where, who, and how civil rights songs are sung nowadays.

I certainly didn't mean to be interrogative in the negative sense of that word, and hope that you didn't take my questions that way.


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Subject: RE: African American Protest Slogans & Songs
From: M.Ted
Date: 09 Oct 07 - 07:53 AM

I didn't take your questions to be negative, or hostile, or anything like that--and yes, the demon factor on the internet is that we write in a conversational style, but things like tone of voice, which really imparts a lot of meaning in conversation, aren't there--

Anyway, my main point here is that the civil right movement, like the labor movement and the anti-war movement, used songs as tools for building solidarity--the songs were drawn from folk cultures, to be sure, but most of the people who sang them, on marches, at sit-ins, at rallys, etc, learned them as "Freedom Songs" and did not know them outside of that context--the songs were taught to people by organizers, though the singers may not have considered them to be folksingers rather than organizers.


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Subject: RE: African American Protest Slogans & Songs
From: Neil D
Date: 11 Oct 07 - 12:03 AM

...I spent some time at work today reading through the interesting thread that you started regarding African American slogan and songs. I thought about posting a chant we used to do at May 4th memorials at Kent State in the '70's: Two, Four, Six, Eight, Remember Kent and Jackson State. The May 4th coalition always made a point of including a contingent from Jackson State to memorialize the much less publicized, but just as tragic, killing of African American students at Jackson State when police fired indescriminantly into a dormitory. This event happened just a few weeks after the Kent State shootings, but never drew the attention of the media like the white students at Kent State. Thus, the chant....


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Subject: RE: African American Protest Slogans & Songs
From: Azizi
Date: 11 Oct 07 - 01:19 AM

Neil, thanks for posting that chant that commemorates the tragic events at Kent State and at Jackson State.

It's too bad we don't learn from our history so we don't have to keep repeating its terrible parts.


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Subject: RE: African American Protest Slogans & Songs
From: GUEST,Neil D
Date: 11 Oct 07 - 12:31 PM

When will we ever learn, when will we ever learn.

   Unfortunately, I think sometimes the wrong lessons are learned.
I think today's students have taken this lesson from the past: Don't buck the system. Why aren't todays college students as outraged by the current illegal, immoral war the way students 40 years ago were about Vietnam? I apologize if this is thread drift.


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Subject: RE: African American Protest Slogans & Songs
From: M.Ted
Date: 11 Oct 07 - 05:50 PM

Simple--the War in Iraq doesn't really pose any personal threat to them, the way the Vietnam war did.

Under the heading of "wrong lessons learned" when Nixon instituted the lottery, everyone whose birthday fell above the magic number knew they were safe--It knocked the wind out of the anti-war movement, which is just what it was intended to do. If a general conscription was implemented, the streets would be full of protesters in a New York minute--thats why it hasn't happened, and won't happen.


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Subject: RE: African American Protest Slogans & Songs
From: Bobert
Date: 11 Oct 07 - 07:59 PM

Well, for me the meduim has been the message... The lyrics change but what remains is the strong influence of Afican rhythums... I didn't say African American but African...

Historically these rhythums were brought to this country and took up a life of their own in a different land with a different language but underneath it all, it is still the sounds of Africa... They found their way into the repetitious farm work of the early slaves and continued into the Jim Crow days and into the Civil Rights movement... And beyond...

If onw goes to any antiwar demonstration of any size these days, the hard African rhythum is there front and center with kids pounding African drums and chanting... The chants are converstations... They have two parts... The first is the question and the second is the answer... But underneath the words is the infectious rhythum of Africa... It almost doesn't matter what the words are... The rhythum in itself is revoultionary...

Like I said, the medium is the message...

Jus' my thoughts...

Bobert


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Subject: RE: African American Protest Slogans & Songs
From: GUEST,.gargoyle
Date: 11 Oct 07 - 10:06 PM

ASSiZI-

We seem to being seeing double along the same seam.

You are stuck in the 60's (which makes you... "folk sort-of" on the Mudcat)

There is A LOT of PROTEST!!!! in REAL Africa....from the Sudan to almost Antarctica.

Why milk a cow that has gone dry???? .....Four decades ago?

Sincerely,
Gargoyle


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Subject: RE: African American Protest Slogans & Songs
From: Rowan
Date: 12 Oct 07 - 12:43 AM

Be fair, Gargoyle.

In the post that started the thread Azizi wrote
"The purpose of this thread is to explore the continuity & changes in protest slogans and songs that are associated with the Black American civil rights movement from the mid 1960s to date."

Surely the initiator of the thread can exercise the luxury of defining it however they want; any subsequent posters are really just buying into discussion of the original notion. We've been invited to discuss everything from then until now and many have done just that. To the extent that us respondents have stuck in the 60s, any 'fault' is ours to be shared.

If you wanted to start a thread on African rhythms and its role in current music/protest/etc worldwide or regionally, I'm sure you'd get some takers.

Cheers, Rowan


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Subject: RE: African American Protest Slogans & Songs
From: GUEST,DV
Date: 03 Aug 08 - 11:56 AM

I don't know if this is the proper protest song thread to refresh to post this or not, as there seems to be plenty of them!

But I am interested in both how the songs/singers have changed over time, as well as how we perceive the different strands of them.

While this thread speaks to African American protest songs, I am thinking of other protest songs of the same era as the civil rights movement, and how different they were.

First, many of the protest songs of the anti-war movement weren't folk songs, but rock songs. Going to You Tube and searching 'protest songs' brought up this gal, who has created a list of "top ten" protest songs, and done a clip on each. Thought some here might be interested in it here:

http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=protest+songs&search_type=

I would add, the protest songs of the United Farmworkers and the Chicano movement were diffferent too, and they seemed to migrate and morph into protest songs on the Central American wars of the 1980s, to what is now the immigration movement, School of the Americas protests, etc.

And then, there seems to be a whole other genre of protest songs that have evolved surrounding political conventions over the years too, which will be seeing (if the media allows us to, that is) soon enough.

Very interesting thread!


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Subject: RE: African American Protest Slogans & Songs
From: Azizi
Date: 03 Aug 08 - 12:05 PM

DV, here's the hyperlink to the URL that you posted:

http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=protest+songs&search_type=

**

I've not given thought to this thread for a while.

At this time, my spirit's not where this thead is. But, I'm glad that links to related threads have been added to this thread, and I'm also glad that you and maybe others are interested in adding comments about this subject.


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Subject: RE: African American Protest Slogans & Songs
From: GUEST,DV
Date: 03 Aug 08 - 12:09 PM

Sorry, I also meant to include a link to the search I did first at You Tube on "African American protest songs". It came up with some very interesting hits.

http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=african+american+protest+songs&search_type=

Thanks for doing the hyperlink--maybe you could add the above?


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Subject: RE: African American Protest Slogans & Songs
From: Janice in NJ
Date: 03 Aug 08 - 09:54 PM

Let me take a big step back through time. I was involved in the Civil Rights Movement from 1963 to 1969, and singing was a central part of it. That's something that's too easily forgotten today. Singing was everywhere, and to the musicians who got the most respect from the Movement rank-and-file were themselves activists who came out of the Movement, not just supporters who came to "entertain the troops." Among the musicians I remember best were Len Chandler (who wrote Move On Over or We'll Move On Over You), Rev. Frederick Douglass Kirkpatrick (Everybody's Got a Right to Live), Jimmy Collier (Burn, Baby, Burn), Guy and Candy Carawan, and above all the SNCC Freedom Singers (Matt Jones, Cordell Reagon, Bernice Johnson Reagon, Ruth Harris, and Charles Neblett).


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Subject: RE: African American Protest Slogans & Songs
From: GUEST,Marymac90
Date: 04 Aug 08 - 03:36 PM

Fascinating thread, Azizi! I'll add two things.

Those interested in this type of music might also be interested in
a network that is still actively singing today. It's called the Peoples' Music Network/Songs of Freedom and Struggle. I know
there is a website. I'll let someone comfy with clickies post it.

The second thought is more about my personal experience. I am white, and I am a social worker in a low-income apartment building for elderly and disabled people that is majority African-American. My first attempt to get people singing was the idea that could
sing Christmas carols in or just outside of the apartments of homebound/disabled people, and it worked quite well. My second
was that we have a sort of all-purpose Memorial Service, for
people to remember those that they are personally missing, during the week of Memorial Day. We sang a lot of hymns, and a lot of people gave rememberances of loved ones. I think if I had offered a "support group" for dealing with grief, I would have had a very poor turnout!

The next singing event I will offer will be a doo wop/oldies event in October. It will be interesting to see if there's a difference in participation, since we'll be singing songs that don't have religious significance. I also have plans for a Black History
Month event next February, which will involve a lot of the Civil Rights Songs mentioned in this thread.

Keep on pushin'

Marymac


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Subject: RE: African American Protest Slogans & Songs
From: Azizi
Date: 29 Apr 09 - 10:44 AM

It's been a long time since I posted to and read this thread. I apologize to GUEST,DV for just reading his/her request to add a hyperlink for the web address that was posted in that 03 Aug 08 - 12:09 PM comment. Here's that hyperlink:

http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=african+american+protest+songs&search_type=

Thanks to all who have posted to this thread.

Keep on keepin on!


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Subject: RE: African American Protest Slogans & Songs
From: Stringsinger
Date: 29 Apr 09 - 11:24 AM

There is a wonderful new documentary on the Chaney/Schwerner/Goodman
by Micki Dickoff called "Neshoba". We had privilege of seeing it and meeting Micki
who is a lovely person.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neshoba_(film)

This is one of the most important films done on Civil Rights.

Frank Hamilton


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Subject: RE: African American Protest Slogans & Songs
From: Azizi
Date: 25 Mar 12 - 07:29 AM

Greetings!

I just published two posts on my pancocojams cultural blog which document examples of chants used in the March 22, 2012 New York City Trayvon Martin Million Hoodies March. Part I of that series showcases chants found in three different videos.

Part II of that series documents examples of chants from that same march that were included in news reports and one tweeter feed about that march.

The links to those posts are: http://​pancocojams.blogspot.com/2012/​03/​chanting-at-trayvon-martin-mill​ion.html

and

http://​pancocojams.blogspot.com/2012/​03/​chanting-at-trayvon-martin-mill​ion_24.html.

RIP Trayvon and all others who died because of racial profiling!

-Azizi Powell


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Subject: RE: African American Protest Slogans & Songs
From: Azizi
Date: 25 Mar 12 - 07:50 AM

I should also mention that the tweeter feed from which I excerpted examples of chants in Part II of that pancocojams blog post may include examples of Occupy Wall Street chants & songs instead of chants from Million Hoodies marchers' chants.

A number of tweeters alleged that OWS attempted to "co-opt" that Million Hoodies march. One example of that alleged attempt to take over that Million Hoodies march was to chant over official speakers.

A documented chant from that march - "Whose street?/ Our streets." 0 is certainly known to be used by Occupy Wall Street activists. And a chant like "No Justice/ No Peace" could have been used by both groups-if indeed those populations of marchers were different.

For the record (no pun intended), a person who attended that New York City Million Hoodies march indicated that two songs were sung: "Ain't Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Around" and "This Little Light Of Mine". Both of those songs are from African American traditions. However, I saw no mention of singing on any news reports of that march (I only read one tweeter feed). And the only example of singing that I saw on a number of videos of that particular march that I watched was a singing/chant "We are one". My guess is that those songs were sung by a group or groups associated with Occupy Wall Street (in part because I STILL don't see any custom of singing at majority African American protest marches and also because the person tweeting the singing of one of these songs mentioned the singing being accompanied by a guitar. I don't think African Americans carry guitars to protest marches as much as White Americans do :o), and the Occupy Wall Street movement is known to be a mostly a White activist movement (except for certain cities such as Oakland, California). Furthermore, as the above mentioned tweeter feed documents, there have been a number of difficulties with race/racism in the USA Occupy Wall Street movement -but that subject goes beyond the intent of this post.

Btw, I added a hyperlink to this Mudcat thread in a comment that posted in the comment section for Part II of that pancocojams series.

-Azizi Powell


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Subject: RE: African American Protest Slogans & Songs
From: Azizi
Date: 25 Mar 12 - 08:58 AM

Also, updating my Cocojams website resulted in the old links to pages coming up as "This page is not found".

Here's the current link to the page on Civil Rights songs:
http://cocojams.com/content/african-american-civil-rights-songs.

That page includes the words to various songs as well as videos of those songs being sung.


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