We Shall Overcome: A Song That Changed the World by Stuart Stotts“We Shall Overcome” isn’t a complicated piece of music. The first verse has only twenty-two words, most of them repeated. The melody is straightforward. The chords are basic. Yet the song has had a profound effect on people throughout the United States—and the world.
In clear, accessible language Stuart Stotts explores the roots of the tune and the lyrics in traditional African music and Christian hymns. He demonstrates the key role “We Shall Overcome” played in the civil rights, labor, and anti-war movements in America. And he traces the song’s transformation into an international anthem. With its dramatic stories and memorable quotes, this saga of a famous piece of music offers a unique way of looking at social history.
Author’s note, bibliography, source notes, index.
We Shall Overcome - Sing For Freedom: The Story of Civil Right Movement through Its songs
But few Americans know the background of the song, which links together Black trade union activists, a radical training school for activists, college students who started the Southern sit-in movement, two folk singers, and a president of the United States. The story of that song, which has became an international anthem for human rights, reveals the civil rights movement's remarkable and complex tapestry and its lasting influence. The song's origins go back to a refrain that slaves would sing to sustain themselves: "I'll be all right someday.
We Shall Overcome
The song is most commonly attributed as being lyrically descended from "I'll Overcome Some Day", a hymn by Charles Albert Tindley that was first published in The modern version of the song was first said to have been sung by tobacco workers led by Lucille Simmons during a cigar workers strike in Charleston, South Carolina. In , the song was published under the title " We Will Overcome " in an edition of the People's Songs Bulletin a publication of People's Songs , an organization of which Pete Seeger was the director , as a contribution of and with an introduction by Zilphia Horton , then-music director of the Highlander Folk School of Monteagle, Tennessee an adult education school that trained union organizers. Horton said she had learned the song from Simmons, and she considered it to be her favorite song. She taught it to many others, including Pete Seeger,  who included it in his repertoire, as did many other activist singers, such as Frank Hamilton and Joe Glazer , who recorded it in The song became associated with the Civil Rights Movement from , when Guy Carawan stepped in with his and Seeger's version as song leader at Highlander, which was then focused on nonviolent civil rights activism.
While most people attribute the song to Seeger, however, it had a half-century or so to evolve and expand its meaning before revivalists like Seeger, Guy Carawan, Frank Hamilton, and Joan Baez popularized it during the folk revival. It was , however, before the song evolved into some semblance of the tune we've come to know as the unofficial anthem of the American Civil Rights movement. It was sung by a group of striking workers in Charleston, South Carolina, who were embroiled in a months-long strike for a fair wage at the tobacco processing factory where they worked. The song they emerged with was titled "We Will Overcome. A year later, Pete Seeger was visiting the Highlander school, where he met and befriended Horton. She taught him "We Will Overcome" - which had become one of her favorite songs - and he adapted it for use in his shows. He also changed the "will" to "shall" and added some verses of his own.
The first verse of the civil rights anthem We Shall Overcome is no longer under copyright, a New York federal judge ruled on Friday. Lawyers leading the class action against the Richmond Organization and Ludlow Music, claimed We Shall Overcome was an adaptation of an African American spiritual and therefore in the public domain and had only later been adopted by folk singer Pete Seeger , copyrighted, and established as an anthem of the s labor protest movement. Elements of the song, which Martin Luther King referenced in his final sermon, have also been traced to a Beethoven hymn. In her decision, US district judge Denise Cote wrote that the existing copyright holders had not clearly identified the original work on which their derivative was based nor demonstrated that changes Seeger allegedly made to the first — and identical fifth — verse rose to sufficient originality to merit copyright protection. Folk music does not observe such grammatical formalities; rather folk music is filled with lyrical expressions that do not conform to grammatical rules or norms. The justice did not rule on other aspects of the case, including who really authored the song or if the copyright had been fraudulently obtained.
In April , young civil-rights activists joined together in song in Raleigh, N. Joined there by banjo-player Pete Seeger, Carawan and the group had sung numerous fast and slow protest songs that would come to be repeated over and over as the civil-rights struggle gained momentum.
make your mind an ocean