Two Cultural Products Of The Civil Rights Movement

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In this assignment I will analyse two cultural products of the civil rights movement in America. I have chosen to analyse song lyrics and speeches which were inspired by the civil rights movement and date back to the time when the civil rights movement was well underway. I will examine the song lyrics of Bob Dylan in his song entitled “Only a Pawn in Their Game”. I will also briefly look at the lyrics of Nina Simone in her song entitled “Mississippi Goddam” and Phil Ochs’ lyrics in his song entitled “Too Many Martyrs”. I have chosen these songs since they are all very thought-provoking songs and are inspired by well known incidents of racism and murder committed against blacks in the south of America. They successfully inspire their listeners to not only have sympathy for the victims mentioned in the songs but to make a decision not to stand idly by and allow such atrocities to take place in their society. It is important to mention that artists like Bob Dylan, Nina Simone and Phil Ochs were aware that as well known artists, they were capable of reaching into the hearts and minds of their listeners and inspiring change. These impressive artists showed their belief that they had a responsibility to tell the stories of innocent victims who had no voice of their own. This acceptance of responsibility is clear when you look at the huge range of protest songs they wrote which were openly public criticisms and protests against inhumane events occurring throughout the world. In analysing speeches which were products of the civil rights movement, I have chosen Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech, Malcolm X’s “The Ballot or The Bullet” speech and President John F. Kennedy’s Civil Rights Address. I Have chosen these ...

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...trol their own politics, attend their own segregated black churches and schools and run their own businesses.

In conclusion, these song lyrics and speeches which were products of the civil rights movement had the ability to aid the movement in that they reached a wide audience and had the potential to inspire a change of heart and mind in their listeners. It is clear that in examining the civil rights movement it is hugely important to look at the cultural products of such a movement, since to change the behaviour of a nation one must first change its attitude and mindset. After analysing the song lyrics and speeches above, it is clear that they indeed had the potential to do exactly this. These song lyrics and speeches are fine examples of how a handful of people can take on the responsibility of challenging their nation to change the society they live in.

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