Participatory Music During The Civil Rights Movement

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As citizens of the USA, we have a number of rights guaranteed to us by the Constitution. Among the most important rights is undoubtedly freedom of speech. There are many ways in which Americans can exercise their right for freedom of speech: for example, people can express their opinions on whatever topic by writing blogs, on social networks, and in newspaper articles. However, I believe, one of the most efficient means of self-expression is music. Music is one of the best ways for people to convey their emotions and opinions because it holds no boundaries or restrictions of any kind, and it gets the point across with the use of lyrics and melodies. That comes particularly useful when people need to voice their concerns on actions taken by…show more content…
There are two ways in which participatory music is used with relation to politics: one of them is propaganda and the other — when people unite in attempt to persuade the government to introduce certain political changes. The examples of the latter in history were the times of slavery of African Americans, the Civil Rights Movement, and the Woman’s Suffrage Movement. Those political movements were peaceful and people often sang motivational songs during those hard times to keep their spirits up and also to voice their political…show more content…
African Americans had their own bathrooms, water fountains, and even restaurants. Even though slavery had been abolished, many people still saw African Americans as salves. In order to make a change, African Americans would take part in protest marches and boycotts. They would march in large groups chanting repetitive hymns, letting everyone know that they too had rights and were not going to stop until they received them. Music during this time played a very important role because it was the only thing that was not directly taken from them. During their protests and marches they sang songs that were peaceful, but at the same time very bold. Songs such as “The Freedom Song” and “This Little Light of Mine” were performed at protest rallies and masses in order to provide spiritual uplifting. Songs like this gave “people new courage and sense of unity. They keep alive a faith, a radiant hope, in the future, particularly in most trying hours” (Shelton, “Songs as a Weapon). Music of this time reflected the struggles that African Americans had to face and since they were treated so unfairly and had limited resources, music was their only “weapon” against

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