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

triangleThem & Us

triangleWest London Xmas party

triangleThe Socialist inbox

triangleCarlisle: Alternative Burns night

US:

triangleWirral Socialist Party: The Teamster Rebellion in the US

triangleHackney & Islington Socialist Party: The US mid-term election results

trianglePreparing the struggle for socialism in 2019

Protest:

triangleNorth Tyneside Campaigning to save our footbridge

triangleFerry workers protest against 2.45 an hour pay

triangle'Austerity Kills' is message of Woking protest

War:

triangleHeroic martyrs of German Revolution

triangleTheatre review: Women of Aktion - the heroic story of how World War One was ended

Farmers:

triangleWhat would a socialist food industry look like?

Vietnam:

triangleThe life and legacy of Martin Luther King

Fascists:

triangle25 years since 50,000 marched against the far-right threat

Communism:

triangleOpinion: China's Orwellian 'social credit system' is a product of capitalism, not 'communism'

Civil rights:

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

Reviews and comments

Reviews and comments

16/1/19

Letters

The Socialist Inbox

16/1/19

EU

Brexit: The Uncivil War - an interesting but inaccurate portrayal of EU referendum

16/1/19

Film

Sorry to Bother You: "Socialist film Botox that made me feel young again"

9/1/19

Letters

The Socialist Inbox

9/1/19

Review

Theatre review: Women of Aktion - the heroic story of how World War One was ended

2/1/19

Letters

The Socialist Inbox

2/1/19

China

Opinion: China's Orwellian 'social credit system' is a product of capitalism, not 'communism'

12/12/18

The Socialist

The Socialist quiz of 2018

12/12/18

Obituary

Obituary - Beth Roper (1990-2018) - comrade, friend and fighter

28/11/18

Trump

Trump is capricious and dangerous - but is he really in charge?

28/11/18

Theatre

Wonderful socialist play finds Edwardian poverty not in past

28/11/18

Poverty

End "poverty, ill health and despair":a benefits adviser speaks out against the cuts

21/11/18

Letters

The Socialist inbox

21/11/18

Blairites

Nothing to offer from the Blairites

14/11/18

Letters

The Socialist inbox

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


January 2019

2018

2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

2000

1999