Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/797/18121

From The Socialist newspaper, 5 February 2014

Pete Seeger - Sound of US protest movement

Roger Bannister

The death of American folk singer Pete Seeger will be keenly felt by those who lived through the social and political convulsions of the 1960s.

This was the era of the American civil rights movement, the international campaign against the Vietnam War, and the general feeling of youth rebellion evident everywhere.

Pete Seeger developed as a musician and political activist from his teenage years. He discovered authentic American folk music by riding freight cars with unemployed hobos and meeting ordinary people, poor farmers, workers, particularly those in struggle.

Seeger began writing songs about the conditions these people faced. Increasingly they were more political songs, not least when he campaigned for the Republican forces against Franco's fascists in the Spanish Civil War.

He played guitar, 12-stringed guitar and famously five-stringed banjo. He formed a folk group called the Weavers, to honour a group of Silesian weavers who rebelled against oppression in the 19th century.

All the Weavers' members were blacklisted during the 1950s McCarthy witch hunt in the US.

Pete Seeger had joined the Young Communist League in 1936, later joining the Communist Party of America.

His politics and many of his songs brought him before McCarthy's Un-American Activities Committee. Unlike many, he refused to take the Fifth Amendment, (a protection in US law against self-incrimination), but refused to justify his beliefs and activities, or to incriminate any associates.

This resulted in a prison sentence, which was quashed on appeal though Seeger was blacklisted by broadcasting and recording companies.

Refusing to be silenced he took his music to college campuses, labour halls, small country towns where he performed to small farmers and rural poor.

He later said: "I still call myself a communist because communism is no more what Russia made of it than Christianity is what the churches made of it".

This period coincided with the US folk music revival. Artists like Bob Dylan, Simon and Garfunkel and Tom Paxton all paid tribute to Pete Seeger's influence on their own musical development.

The folk music revival coincided with protest movements that developed in the 1960s. Many artists sang songs of protest but Seeger was seen as the father of them all.

Adapting an old spiritual, he produced the anthem of 60s protest, We Shall Overcome. Where Have All the Flowers Gone?, If I Had a Hammer and Turn Turn Turn are also widely known.

In later years his political campaigning focussed on environmental issues. His willingness to share his talents, stand up for the oppressed and stick by his principles to the point of sacrifice will endear Pete Seeger's memory to socialists.

Why not click here to join the Socialist Party, or click here to donate to the Socialist Party.


In The Socialist 5 February 2014:


Socialist Party news and analysis

Bedroom tax beaten in Scotland

Who's robbing our NHS?

Trade unions - time to break Labour link is now!

Labour taxing the rich? Balls

Them & Us


International socialist news and analysis

Sochi winter Olympics - -breaking all records!

Ukraine: battling forces no friends of working class


Reports and campaigns

Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition conference

Socialist Students: Preparing for struggles to come

Cameron's cruel cuts hammer the homeless

Floods: fully-funded environmental planning needed

Stop 98 million cuts in Worcestershire

Fleetwood: MP tries to evade hospital campaigners

Building the Socialist Party


Socialist Party workplace news

Stop the tube cuts: Support the strikes!

PCS: Re-elect fighting, campaigning leadership

NUT national executive agrees date for national strike

Yorks ambulance workers strike again

Preparing action in Lewisham

Royal Opera House workers win living wage

Future Directions dispute settled

Tebay: RMT rally


Readers' comments

Who supported the 1984-85 miners' strike?

Pete Seeger - Sound of US protest movement

Osborne claims recovery - super-exploitation is reality


 

Home   |   The Socialist 5 February 2014   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate   |   PDF  |   ebook






Related links:

Music:

triangleCarlisle: Alternative Burns night

triangleCatchy folk rock with a socialist edge

triangleCrunchy guitar and poignant dialogue in alt-rock homage to south Wales miners

triangleRussia 1917: how art helped make the revolution

triangleSave Cardiff's live music venues

US:

triangleLet's sell 1,000 extra copies of issue 1000!

triangleSpain: Student general strike against sexist, capitalist 'justice' system

triangleExclusive interview with Gazan activist: "The more they kill us, the more the anger increases"

triangleMiddle East in crisis

Protest:

triangleYes to the struggle to lift the siege

triangleStop Trump! Build for 13 July student walkouts

triangleSheffield Pride organisers defeated in attempt to ban politics

War:

triangleHull says no to war, no to austerity

Farmers:

triangleWhat would a socialist food industry look like?

Vietnam:

triangleThe life and legacy of Martin Luther King

Fascists:

triangleLewisham 1977: When socialists and workers defeated the far-right National Front

Communism:

triangleYork Socialist Party: Socialism to Communism

Civil rights:

triangleTV review: Abortion on Trial - hard-hitting look at impact of 1967 act

Reviews and comments

Reviews and comments

23/5/18

Letters

The Socialist Inbox

23/5/18

Film

We can learn about struggle from the mass trespass of Kinder Scout

23/5/18

Mental health

Ads won't fix it: fight mental health cuts as well as stigma

23/5/18

Racist

How 'Prevent' training fosters racist paranoia

16/5/18

Letters

The Socialist Inbox

9/5/18

Obituary

Obituary: Tony Byrne 1939 - 2018

2/5/18

The Socialist

The Socialist inbox

2/5/18

Obituary

Obituary: Roy Corke 1945-2018

18/4/18

Letters

The Socialist inbox

18/4/18

Film

Vital depiction of fight for Aids prevention and treatment

11/4/18

The Socialist

The Socialist inbox

11/4/18

Sexism

Moving look at school students' many perspectives on sexism

11/4/18

Trotsky

Striking analysis in heat of 1917 will deepen any reader's understanding

4/4/18

Letters

The Socialist inbox

4/4/18

Obituary

Obituary: Lorraine Dardis (1965-2018)

triangleMore Reviews and comments articles...


Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party
Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube

LATEST POSTS

CONTACT US

Phone our national office on 020 8988 8777

Email: info@socialistparty.org.uk

Locate your nearest Socialist Party branch Text your name and postcode to 07761 818 206

Regional Socialist Party organisers:

Eastern: 0798 202 1969

East Mids: 0773 797 8057

London: 020 8988 8786

North East: 0784 114 4890

North West 07769 611 320

South East: 020 8988 8777

South West: 07759 796 478

Southern: 07833 681910

Wales: 07935 391 947

West Mids: 02476 555 620

Yorkshire: 0114 264 6551

ABOUT US

ARCHIVE

Alphabetical listing


May 2018

April 2018

March 2018

February 2018

January 2018

2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

2000

1999