Music in Civil Rights Essay
Music in Civil Rights
How did musicians influence the civil rights movement?
During the Civil Rights movement of the mid-twentieth century, music was used to spread word of equality and respect in America. Jazz, rock & roll, blues, gospel & reggae music were among the prominent genres of music during this time. With music, African-American artists like Little Richard, Aretha Franklin, and Bob Marley wanted to present positive and uplifting messages to the country that was full of hatred for other people. African Americans also wanted to raise self-confidence of those who were affected by these acts of hate and violence.
The music stylings of Jazz and its counterpart Blues played important rolls for music during the Civil Rights Movement. Since the majority of Jazz and Blues singers were black, this music was frowned upon among white southerners. However, it did bring awareness to the mistreatment of Blacks. In the song, “Strange Fruit” by Billie Holiday, a euphemism is used to represent the bodies of minorities hanging from trees in the south. Jazz music of the twentieth century is known to be told in the stories of the struggle of blacks and others.
Along with Jazz and Blues, Gospel and Soul music played a large role in civil rights. Originating from the songs that slaves sang before they were freed, soul and gospel music used religious lyrics to help the nonviolent protest. Similar to jazz and blues, soul and gospel was not likened by many white people as it was primarily performed by black people. One of the most famous black soul singers of all time was Aretha Franklin. She was a key symbol of the advancement of black people, lending her talents to the civil rights cause. She supported Dr. Martin Luther King, as she was close with him and sang at his funeral. This shows her determination for the efforts of the struggle of blacks.
A commonly overlooked genre of music which supported civil rights was reggae. It brought up the concept of coming together as one. The artist, Bob Marley was and still is the most known reggae-artist of all time ad his song “Get Up, Stand Up for Your Rights” showed a message of coming together,
despite their skin color or religion.
Music written by blacks during the Civil Rights Movement was a large factor in the upbringing of minorities in America. Those who listened to the music were motivated by the lyrics and a message of peace and love among people. This shows that these kinds of music are big parts of the way people think and was powerful enough to strengthen our nation.
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