Harmony & Resistance: 10 U.S. Songs That Changed the Tide of Protest

"Lift Every Voice and Sing"

Known as the Black National Anthem, this song was penned by James Weldon Johnson and composed by his brother John Rosamond Johnson in 1900. It became a powerful hymn for justice and equality among African Americans​​.

"This Land Is Your Land" by Woody Guthrie

A response to Irving Berlin's "God Bless America," Guthrie's song criticizes the unequal distribution of wealth and property in the U.S., asserting that the land belongs to everyone​​.

"Strange Fruit" by Billie Holiday

A haunting critique of lynching and racial terror in the American South, the song's vivid imagery of "strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees" delivered a powerful message against racism​​.

"We Shall Overcome"

Adapted from a gospel song, it became the anthem of the Civil Rights Movement, symbolizing hope and belief in the struggle for rights and equality​​.

"Blowin' in the Wind" by Bob Dylan

With its questioning lyrics, Dylan's song became an anthem for civil rights and anti-war movements, asking how long it would take for peace and equality to be achieved​​.

"Fortunate Son" by Creedence Clearwater Revival

A vehement critique of the Vietnam War and class injustice, highlighting the disparity between those who decide for war and those who have to fight it​​.

"Fight the Power" by Public Enemy

A powerful rap song that calls out racism, inequality, and urges action against the power structures in society, becoming an anthem for resistance and empowerment​​.

"Ohio" by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young

Written in response to the Kent State shootings in 1970, this song became a rallying cry against the Vietnam War and governmental repression of protest​​.

"The Revolution Will Not Be Televised" by Gil Scott-Heron

A critique of media manipulation and the passive consumption of television, urging people to become actively involved in the social change movement instead of watching from the sidelines​​.

"Alright" by Kendrick Lamar

Released amidst the Black Lives Matter movement, Lamar's song is a modern anthem of hope and resilience in the face of police brutality and racial injustice​​.