The Effects Gospel Music Had on the Civil Rights Movement

Gospel Singer Mahalia Jackson
Gospel Singer Mahalia Jackson

Its been a long time now since the Civil Rights Movement happened, but what role did gospel music play in effect to help the blacks gain their freedom? The answer to this question is freedom songs. Freedom songs played a significant role in the Civil Rights Movement. Even though marches, boycotts, strikes and voter-registration drives played big roles in the movement, nothing compares to the hope that Freedom songs registered in peoples hearts. One of the most celebrated of all freedom songs is the song “We Shall Overcome”. It offered courage, comfort, and hope as protesters confronted prejudice and hate in the battle for equal rights for African Americans. 

Protesters would sing this song as they marched, as they were beat up, attacked by police dogs, and as they were taken to jail for breaking laws enforcing segregation. Civil Rights activist Martian Luther King Jr. said “There’s something about that song that haunts you.” MLK recited the words from “We Shall Overcome” in his final sermon delivered in Memphis on Sunday March 31, 1968, before his assassination. In his speech, King says “Before the victory’s won, even some will have to face physical death. But if physical death is the price that some must pay to free their children from a permanent psychological death, then nothing shall be more redemptive.” Dr. King’s courageous faith is proved throughout his speeches, wisdom and his spectacular gift to move major crowds of protesters (March on Washington).

Here is a YouTube video containing the audio from MLK’s “We Shall Overcome” speech.

MLK waves to the crowd at the March on Washington
MLK waves to the crowd at the March on Washington

Protesters would sing We Shall Overcome as they marched. This action of faith and courage caused people around the world to see the brutality that was going on and later lead to Congress passing the The Civil Rights Acts of 1964. This act put an end to racial segregation in schools, restaurants, theaters, and in hotels. A year later Congress passed the voting Rights Act that gave African Americans the right to vote.

Congress passing the Civil Rights Act of 1964
Congress passing the Civil Rights Act of 1964

Here is my Podcast

Here are cool videos about the Civil Rights Movement and music

Even though the Civil Rights Movement didn’t not put a complete end to racism or racial discrimination, freedom songs and gospel music played a significant role in African Americans gaining their rights, freedom, and putting an end to segregation.

Here is a another celebrated freedom song


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s