Friday, January 13, 2012

Sing a Song of Freedom

by Pa Rock
Citizen Journalist

This coming Monday is the date set aside by Congress to honor the birth of an icon of the American civil rights movement, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  Dr. King was murdered while I was in college, and I remember well the turmoil of the times.  Black people were freed from the shackles of slavery in the 1860's, but a century later they were still fighting bigotry and still enslaved to an American social, political, and economic systems that provided few opportunities for advancement.  Those were the doors that Dr. King was trying to open.

Now, over forty years after the death of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, a black family is living in the upstairs quarters of the White House, not as servants but as the freely elected President of the United States, the First Lady, and their lovely daughters.  Oh how times have changed!

But there is still much to be done.  The election of Barack Obama served to remind a certain element in America that they feel threatened by advances in civil rights.  Fortunately, that attitude is beginning to fade as young Americans with more liberal views slowly begin to make their presence felt in society.  Public attitudes are changing for the better, and sooner or later the old white men running the Republican  Party are going to figure that out.  Probably not this year, though!

Today I found a piece on the website of The Nation magazine that had a listing of the top ten civil rights songs of all time.  It was compiled by Peter Rothberg.  He invited readers to add to the list if they felt he missed something worthy of inclusion.  (More on that at the end of the list.)  Here are the Rothberg selections:

1.  "We Shall Not be Moved"  by Mavis Staples
2.  "People Get Ready"  by The Impressions
3.  "A Change is Gonna Come"  by Sam Cooke
4.  "I Wish I Knew (How it Would Feel to be Free)"  by Nina Simone
5.  "Here's to the state of Mississippi"  by Phil Ochs
6.  "The Times They Are a Changin'"  by Bob Dylan
7.  "Eyes on the Prize"  by Sweet Honey on the Rock
8.  "95 South  (All the Places We've Been)"  by Gil Scott Heron
9.  "Ain't Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me 'Round"  by The Roots
10. "Freedom Highway"  by the Staples Singers

Okay,  so what was the absolute civil rights classic that Peter Rothberg overlooked?  To my way of thinking, it doesn't get any more moving than "We Shall Overcome," perhaps the Joan Baez version.    It is a song that Dr. King knew well, and it was definitive of the times in which he worked.

Have a wonderful weekend while you sing a song of freedom!

No comments: