Civil Rights Movement And The Influence Of Music

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Behind every great social movement there is an unofficial soundtrack. The hippies had the music of Woodstock and such artists as John Lennon and Bob Dylan. The “contemporary neo-fascist movement” (Eyerman, 2002) had what many call “white power music.” Perhaps the most powerful example of the blending of music and social movements is the Civil Rights Movement. Musicians during that time period drew from a variety of musical forms that included gospel, funk, jazz, blues, and soul, to express them selves. Many of those same songs from that time are still very powerful and resonate deeply today. The songs and images that were popular during the Civil Rights Movement were influential and significant to the movement for several reasons. Protesters thrived off of the powerful lyrics of the songs and found themselves moved by the images they encountered. Non-protesters and people who previously weren’t a part of the movement would later become involved because they, too, were influenced by the photos that were being circulated as well as the music inspired by the movement. The roots of the Civil Rights Movement lie deep in the history of this nation. African American’s fight for justice began far before Martin Luther King’s “I Have A Dream” speech and Rosa Park’s refusal to give up her bus seat. As Leon Litwack (2009) states, “The Civil Rights Movement began with the presence of enslaved blacks in the New World, with the first slave mutiny on the ships bringing them here” (p. 3). Centuries later, African Americans found themselves facing many of the same issues and inequalities their slave ancestors did. It has been well documented, and often discussed, the struggles African Americans faced during this time. Across America, men and women, who were mostly young and black, challenged the injustices they were confronted with. They had to endure being put in jail, subjected

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