In 1964, the marchers for civil rights and equality of African Americans sang the song that became known as the Civil Rights anthem: “We Shall Overcome”. With chords and words built from old spirituals, the song was the soundtrack of struggle and Dr. King’s promiseland. What some may not have known is that “We Shall Overcome” was written by folk artist Pete Seeger – a white man. Seeger’s folk music was built on a multicultural foundation, including his folk release of Lead Belly’s “Goodnight Irene”, which reached no. 1 on the folk charts.
“We Shall Overcome” was built on the foundation of other gospel songs, including “I’ll Overcome,” a hymn sang by striking tobacco workers while picketing in South Carolina and “We Will Overcome”, by Lucille Simmons. At the time of its development, Seeger was a part of the folk group The Weavers. He taught his version entitled “We Shall Overcome” to his fellow group members and began performing it for civil rights activists during protests.
Pete Seeger lived a life under the microscope of the government for communist activities, even going to prison in 1961. Referring to himself as a “Communist with a small c,” Seeger and The Weavers found themselves facing cancelled performances after the FBI leaked information about their affiliation with the communist party. He was indicted in 1957 on 10 counts of contempt of Congress, which was found to be false a year later. He had previously left The Weavers after they agreed to an ad for Lucky Strike cigarettes.
Seeger established the “We Shall Overcome” Fund, which is now under the care of Highlander Research and Education Center. The center provides grants to African American organizers in the South. In 1972, Pete Seeger was elected into the Songwriters Hall of Fame. He was granted the Grammy Lifetime Achievement award in 1993 and in 1994 he received a Kennedy Center Honor from President Bill Clinton and the National Medal of Arts. In 1996, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Given international recognition as well, Pete Seeger was issued the Order of Félix Varela, Cuba’s highest honor, in 1999.
In 2006, singer Bruce Springsteen tapped Seeger’s civil rights anthem in his release of “We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions” in tribute to the legendary singer. Known for his conscience music and using his voice as an expression of the times, Pete Seeger was asked to perform “This Land is Your Land” at the 2009 Obama Inauguration.
He passed away on January 27th in New York. He was 94.
(AP Photo: This Sept. 21, 2013, file photo shows Pete Seeger performing on stage during the Farm Aid 2013 concert at Saratoga Performing Arts Center in Saratoga Springs, N.Y.)
Also On Black America Web:
This Week’s Celebrity Instagrams (11/26-12/2)
30 photos Launch gallery
1. Little Legend and Puddy 😍😍😍😍
1 of 30
2. "You on point Phife?" "all the time,Tip". 💥 #bannedfromnormal
2 of 30
3. Vegan! The Impossible burger at Crossroads
3 of 30
4. Lawrence #BeforeandAfterEpisodes 1-4: 184lbs 13% body fatEpisode 8: 196lbs 8% body fat S/O @coachdaveboxing with the works outs and @kildareriordan with the nutrition
4 of 30
5. Jus haaaanngin out
5 of 30
6. Meanwhile back at home in Atlanta GA someone mad they not on the 🛳. 😳
6 of 30
7. No limits... Photo cred: Chris Bridges @ludacris
7 of 30
8. new new
8 of 30
9. Apparently my 260lbs is too much for the actual vines in the Hawaiian jungles to hold me without breaking and me falling hundreds of feet. So for safety purposes, I'm forced to swing thru #Jumanjj on wires strong enough to hold 12 adult buffaloes and 1 adult Rock. #OnSet #Jumanji #IronicallyIEatBuffaloDailyForLunch #MoreManThanNatureKnowsWhatToDoWith
9 of 30
10. hey ma! 🎎#wcw 💙
10 of 30
11. Surprise visit to our factories!!! #GoodAmerican #USA
11 of 30
12 of 30
13. Peachy Keen 🔥✨⚡️
13 of 30
14. If this don't look thankful I don't know what does. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours. #UltraBlessed #24kMagic #SweetPotatoFly
14 of 30
15. Late nights @nbcmarlon with the writers... we in here!!!
15 of 30
16. There goes my baaaaaaaaabbbbyyyyy #QueenKingMagic!!! We're up to something! Ira BIG!!! Stay out our buisness -
16 of 30
17. You want to win every game you play but when you come home to these faces... who cares. #ILoveYouGirls best part of my day, everyday!
17 of 30
18. Steady,steady..... full size jenga.. "I got this one "???? Or do I ?
18 of 30
19. Cornrows kind of day 😉@dontaysavoy2 you convinced me and I love. ❤️️
19 of 30
20. #BrotherlyLove #tbt
20 of 30
21 of 30
22. #basel #TeamLOVE @kingcombs
22 of 30
23. Just introduced a special screening of @directher 's groundbreaking (must see) documentary @13thfilm with my brother @themichaelealy | @unitedblackout #blackoutblackfriday
23 of 30
24. Me & Vanessa Williams giving #DuckLips #Pose on the set of #DaytimeDivas @vh1 - Coming Soon to a tv near you. Lol. - My make up done by @makeupsurgeon
24 of 30
25. This picture just makes me wanna praise the Lord, you hear me!!!!!! Yes Lord brotha #TEDDYCAMPBELL What a #man !!! You are everything right on this picture husband ......... #gorgeous #stylish #classy #strong #masculine #king #sexy #debonair #gentlemenstyle And that #bible in your hand just seals the deal for me (probably cause i know that, that is what helped you become just as amazing as you look😘). While my heart and mind experiences the goodness of God at #church on Sundays, my eyes experiences the goodness of Teddy😍. Amen somebody🙌🏽. "Bless the Lord oh my soul and all that is within me bless his holy name" #myman #myhusband #goodman #blackman #dapperman #godlyman #goodfather #mybestfriend
25 of 30
26. Yesterday was my mama's 53rd birthday!!!!! Got to celebrate with her all day. If this is what I have to look forward to I can't wait. Looking like a soft bucket a cocoa butter. Yaaaaaaaaaas! 😍😍😍 love you mommy!
26 of 30
27. "Shout out to @PureAtlanta for getting the family right"....I'm loving this jogger. 😍😍
27 of 30
28. This pic warms my heart ❤️ #myLogiebeans and aunt aunt umba @itowandabraxton 😘
28 of 30
29. You will always be my baby😜. #HappyBirthdayReginae #mybaby18
29 of 30
30. GC "Gods Child" Red on Red SweatSuit available now at www.MonicaApparel.com ... Take Your Crown wherever you go!! I'm pictured in a Medium... Go to the site now for other options ... cc: @trukernell
30 of 30