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July 4 Special

July 4 Special: “We Shall Overcome” and Remembering Folk Icon, Activist Pete Seeger

283px-Democracy_Now!_logo.svgIn a holiday special, we feature the historic speech, “The Meaning of July Fourth for the Negro,” written by abolitionist leader Frederick Douglass, and read by James Earl Jones. Then we spend the rest of the hour remembering the legendary folk singer and activist Pete Seeger, who died in January at the age of 94. For nearly seven decades, Seeger was a musical and political icon who helped create the modern American folk music movement. In the 1940s, he performed in The Almanac Singers with Woody Guthrie, and then formed The Weavers. In the 1950s, he opposed Senator Joseph McCarthy’s witch hunt and was almost jailed for refusing to answer questions before the House Un-American Activities Committee. Seeger became a prominent civil rights activist and helped popularize the anthem, “We Shall Overcome.” He was also a vocal critic of the Vietnam War and inspired a generation of protest singers. Later in his life, Seeger was at the center of the environmental and anti-nuclear movements. In 2009, Seeger and Bruce Springsteen performed Woody Guthrie’s “This Land is Your Land” on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial at an inaugural concert for Barack Obama, when he first became president.

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