Throughout America’s history, the 60s protest movements have the broadest collection of contemporary songs that expressed longings for equality and justice. Many of the soundtracks from the said era carried messages of social prejudice and injustices, even as the Civil Rights Act of 1960 was passed.
The law that aimed to ensure social, political and economic rights among all people in the United States, regardless of race and color, could only do so much in addressing systemic racism in the country.
During the 60s era, several songs conveyed the underlying racial discriminations that continued to exist in American societies. In the ensuing years, many of those songs resurfaced whenever Americans rallied against political and social practices that would allow racism to once again prevail in the country.
As the strife and struggle for equal recognition continued in a country filled with people coming from diverse cultures, the following songs from the 60s era have always found their way in protest movements up to the present
Bob Dylan’s “Blowin’ in the Wind” – 1963
This song was popularized by the all-white trio of folk singers known as Peter, Paul and Mary and has remained relevant in many protest movements. Dylan expressed his frustration over the unending quest for peace, equality and justice as the answers that could provide the solutions are merely being blown away and later forgotten.
Otis Redding “Respect” – 1967
Written and originally recorded by Otis Redding, it became a hit when soul singer Aretha Franklin gave it a more powerful rendition. As the recognized “Queen of Soul” she was able to impress in the minds of many that if there is one thing that will make every person feel valued and appreciated, it’s respect.
In Ms. Franklin’s autobiography, which was published in 1999, she made mention of “Respect” as the battle cry of the civil rights movement in the 60s, because it was what everyone wanted regardless of race, color, religion and occupation.
James Brown’s “Say it Loud, I’m Black And I’m Proud” – 1968
James Brown made his statement, which he delivered to America’s show business audience. Brown owned the stage with his brand of music entertainment and excellent dance moves as a way to prove his point.
Sly Stone’s “Everyday People” – 1968
As the 60s was nearly ending with a trail of political assassinations (John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Jr,. Robert Kennedy) marking the tumultuous period, Sly and the Family Stone released this upbeat song about learning to live together, because at the end of each day, we are all the same. .
”I am no better and neither are you
We are the same whatever we do
You love me you hate me you know me and then
You can’t figure out the bag I’m in