Protest Music: The Civil Rights Movement

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Activist and songwriter, Joe Hill once stated, “A pamphlet, no matter how good, is never read more than once, but a song is learned by heart and repeated over and over…” The 60s and 70s were a complete turnaround from the calm, prosperous times that had accompanied the 50s. The younger generations were the pioneers of the social revolution that mixed in drugs, love, and sex with protests, demonstrations, and riots to promote peace, love, and bring an end to the Vietnam conflict. Protest music proved to be the most successful. Numerous events and factors such as The Civil Rights Movement, the media, the US Army draft, and violent confrontations with the authorities played a key role in the rise of the popular genre of dark, satirical protest…show more content…
In fact, one of the earliest protest artists, Bob Dylan, wrote songs such as “The Times They Are a-Changin,” to sensitize the hearts of the Baby Boomer generation of the United States. These songs were used as propaganda to raise public awareness and reach out to a bigger audience of the public while also bringing people together. Hundreds of young college students made their mark in history riding alongside the Freedom Riders, marching hand in hand with the protestors on Washington. The media started broadcasting more songs that expressed diverse beliefs and opinions. Aretha Franklin, for example, released in 1967 “Respect” and it ranked number eight on the Billboard Pop Single. By 1965, the Civil Rights Movement had achieved two very important goals. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 outlawed racial discrimination and segregation, while the Civil Rights Act of 1965 gave political voice to everyone. But the younger generations didn’t let the movement stop…show more content…
College campuses al of the United States became places for the students to unite and protest together instead of standing alone. Their chants and slogans were often met by violence and brutally from the police and state authorities. One of the most infamous confrontations occurred on May 4, 1970 on an Ohio university. On May 4, 1970 the students gathered at Kent State University and launched a protest after receiving news that more soldiers had been shipped off to war. In an attempt to control the situation, the governor of Ohio sent in the National Guard to the campus. This led to gunfire on the campus and the death of four students with nine left wounded. This only increased the outrage felt nationwide. In turn, this tragedy inspired the song “Ohio” by Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young Son. When asked about the motives of his song, Graham Nash responded, “We are going back to keep awareness alive in the minds of all students, not only in America, but worldwide…to be vigilant and ready to stand and be counted… and to make sure that the powers of the politicians do not take precedent over the right of lawful protest.” At its height the song reached number fourteen on the music

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