Historical Background


Beginning and End of Unit Activities; Assessment Strategies

"We Shall Overcome"
Pete Seeger, adapted from Charles Tindley's "I'll Overcome Some Day"
Gospel hymn turned Civil Rights anthem

"The Times They Are A-Changin'"
Bob Dylan, 1963
A folk song about the inevitability of change

"Mississippi Goddam"
Nina Simone, 1964
A bouyant song about the plight of African Americans in the South

Otis Redding, 1965
A soul song which became the cry of women and ethnic minorities

"Say it Loud: I'm Black and I'm Proud"
James Brown, 1968
The master of soul's call for Black pride

"Okie from Muskogee"
Merle Haggard, 1969
A country singer's "Silent Majority" response to hippies

"Ain't Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me 'Round"
A civil rights Freedom Song based on a spiritual

"A Change Is Gonna Come"
Sam Cooke, 1963
A song about the struggles of African Americans, inspired by being turned away from a whites-only hotel

"People Get Ready"
Curtis Mayfield, 1965
A song of faith that transcends barriers and encourages everyone to board the trian to salvation

"Now that the Buffalo's Gone"
Buffy Saint Marie, 1964
A lament about mistreatment of Native Americans by white colonizers and the US government

"Japanese Rumba"
Jerry Miller, 1955
A song composed for G.I.'s in post-war Japan that pokes fun at the linguistic struggles of Americans in Japan

"The Sukiyaki Song (Ue o Muite Aruko)"
Lyrics by Rokusuke Ei, music by Hachidai Nakamura, 1961
A protest song about the ratification of the Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security

"Yo soy chicano"
Juanita Dominguez, 1968
A song that draws parallels between the Mexican Revolution and the struggles Mexican-Americans in 1960

"I Am Woman"
Helen Reddy, 1972
A feminist anthem from the 1970s

"Feel Like I'm Fixin' to Die Rag"
Joe McDonald, 1965
A satirical "recruiting" song for an unpopular war

Neil Young, 1970
A commemoration of the deaths of four students at Kent State University

John Lennon, 1971
A popular peace anthem written at the height of the Vietnam War

"Sixteen Tons"
Merle Travis, 1947
A country complaint about owing your soul to the company store

"Get a Job"
The Silhouettes, 1957
Doo-wop song about being unemployed

Woody Guthrie, Martin Hoffman, c. 1947
Folk song about the forgotten farm workers killed in the plane crash at Los Gatos

"Los pachucos"
R. Rodriguez and A. Carranza, 1950
A criticism of youth zoot suit culture

"El corrido de César Chávez"
Felipe Cantu, 1966
A protest song about the unfair treatment of farm workers

"El Picket Sign"
El Teatro Campesino, 1965
A song intended to maintain morale among striking farm workers and to recruit scab workers into the movement

"Little Boxes"
Malvina Reynolds, 1962
A lament against the sameness of suburbia

"Wives and Lovers"
Words by Hal David; music by Burt Bacharach, 1963
An encapsulation of what was expected of women in the 1960s

"Los chucos suaves"
Lalo Guerrero, 1949–50
A celebration of the zoot suit craze of the 1940s

"Big Yellow Taxi"
Joni Mitchell, 1970
A lament about development's impact on the environment

"Living for the City"
Stevie Wonder, 1973
The struggles of a young black male in New York City

"America" from West Side Story
Words by Stephen Sondheim; music by Leonard Bernstein, 1957
Musical theatre hit about the Puerto Rican immigrant's experience in America

"I Get Around"
Brian Wilson, 1964
California rock song about the joy of cruising

"(Get Your Kicks On) Route 66"
Bobby Troup, 1946
A celebration of driving along "America's Main Street"

"Special Delivery Blues"
Sippie Wallace and Hersal Thomas, 1920s
A blues song about a woman who has been abandoned by her man

"Call it Stormy Monday"
T. Bone Walker, 1948
A blues song about experiencing sadness daily after experiencing a loss

"Traffic Jam"
James Taylor, 1973
The impact traffic has on the personal and the world at large

"This Land is Your Land"
Woody Guthrie, 1944
Folk answer to Irving Berlin's "God Bless America"

"The Hammer Song (If I Had a Hammer)"
Words by Lee Hays; music by Pete Seeger, 1949
Radical song about using the tools one has to succeed

"Get Together"
Dino Valenti, 1963
Song imploring peace and brotherhood

"Take My Hand, Precious Lord"
Thomas A. Dorsey, 1956
A gospel song about taking comfort in the lord during a time of loss

"Keep on Pushing"
Curtis Mayfield, 1964
A civil rights song encouraging perseverence, strength, and pride

"What a Wonderful World"
Bob Thiele, George David Weiss, 1967
A lyrical ballad that reminds listeners of the beauty in the world

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