Rise Up and Sing

Hope + change through song

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Songs on Racial Justice

Here are some important racial justice songs we won't shine a special light on. (*zipper songs)

Songs from and about the U.S. Civil Rights Movement (1950s-60s):

Other songs by African Americans:

Songs related to the South African Anti-Apartheid Movement:

Songs by singers of European descent:


RISE UP SINGING: The "Freedom" chapter in Rise Up Singing is devoted to songs related to the U.S. Civil Rights Movement: www.riseupandsing.org/songbook/rise-up-singing/freedom

Other racial justice songs in Rise Up Singing include: Bourgeois Blues, Dancing in the Streets, Heaven Help Us All, Carry It On, Free At Last, Over My Head, AsikataliOnce to Every Man & Nation (abolitionist hymn), Because All Men Are Brothers, Color Song, Same Boat Now, Lucretia Mott, We Shall Not Be Moved.

RISE AGAIN: The "Freedom" chapter in Rise Again, on the other hand, includes liberation songs from a variety of movements including anti-apartheid songs from South Africa www.riseupandsing.org/songbook/rise-again/freedom

Other songs in Rise Again on racial justice include: Colors of EarthStill Small VoiceIt's a Long WayPeople Get ReadyThere'll Be No Distinction There, We Are Soldiers, Is There Anybody Here

Note: We are working on a list of songs that should never have been put in our songbooks because their content either contributes to or is complicit with the systemic culture of white supremacy. Here are a few of the songs with significant racist content, issues, and/or history:
  • Before They Close the Minstrel Show (RUS Creativity)
  • Kentucky Babe (RUS Lullabies)
  • Mr Bojangles (RUS Creativity)
  • The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down (RUS America)
  • O Susannah (RUS Play)
  • Old Folks at Home (Home) 
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