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.)
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This Week’s Celebrity Instagrams (6/18-6/24)
25 photos Launch gallery
1. Me & the homie @jaleelwhite #RujohnFoundation Happy to be in Jamaica! Good times
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5. Good Morning. Early day in Detroit! Making press rounds for @thebossnetwork's Ladies That Lead Tour. Thank you @traycemadre and @colourbynumbr for my glam.
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6. POWER the best show on TV @djenvy, Queens we so big out here. #EFFENVODKA #FRIGO
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7. They said u lost a step, wasn't explosive as once was, the best days was in the real view, questioned your drive, your leadership, your commitment, you don't have killer instinct, going back home is the worst mistake in your career, he got the coach fired, players traded, won't work between him and Kyrie, Him and Kev won't work, love your teammates to much, there's no way he can deliver a championship in his hometown, etc etc etc.... But guess what THATS NONE OF MY BUSINESS #StriveForGreatness #ThisOneIsForTheLand #PutSomeRespeckOnMyName Hahahaha!!! Yes sir
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8. Oooooh weeee this man right here is responsible for at least three of our four babies!! #JOE ❤❤❤🎤 #rnb #king #voicelikebutter #ForPeetesSake
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9. Hanging with my @abcnetwork family! @abcunclebuck tonite y'all check us out ! @anthonyanderson @traceeellisross
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10. My broski ( @sayeedshahidi ) and I are on Top 5 Live on @go90 at 5 (which is super duper close)! Make sure to tune in :) #UncleBuck #Blackish
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11. Lights out💤 #GoodNight
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12. Late nights mornings
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13. Ran into the lovely talented @siedahgarrett on this brutiful favvuz deh!
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14. #halal #love #thedargans #kattwilliamsSHOW #mashallah when that Jennah piece HIT!! @sweetjennahcollection glasses by @baddieglamaccessories LIZ 😍 @dynamiteko top @dazzledmv and jeans @thevision414 and shoes: @louboutinworld
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15. Big Hair and Optical Illusions #OceanDrive #MiamiLiving #coverparty
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16. MAMA and THE SAVAGES ... ⚓️ #supportyourlocalgirlgang
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17. From the bottom of my ❤️, thank you new followers & old! & hello fellow night owls! #grateful #racheltrue #naturalhair #curlyhair #curlygirl #healthyhair
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18. I feel so grateful because I met these amazing young minds, visiting from Houston TX, during their college tour stop today at #usc.These students are ALL extraordinary and embody academic excellence so I'm humbled to have shared a few moments with them to applaud and celebrate their bright futures ahead! Thank you @EmergeFellows for inviting me to speak and blessing me with your love and attention this afternoon!
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19. Happy Fathers Day Pops. U taught me how to be a man. Lessons of love, hard work & gratefulness. Sorry the fishing didn't stick. LOL. I Love U!
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20. Sky Zone and Ice Cream! Best Fathers Day Ever!! Photo credit @mariahcarey
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21. Look what finally came in the mail 😎 #mtvmovieawards2016 💥+🌽! #straightouttacompton
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22. Claudia Jordan: ....
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23. 'Member that time I almost knocked a bajillion dollar camera off the car? Really? Yeah, me neither! #Greenleaf Episode 2 comin atcha!
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24. Full of love. #birthday #Cabo
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25. Oh hey! Look who just joined Snapchat
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