After nearly two years of dealing with Donald Trump‘s debauchery, the 2018 Midterm elections were finally here. Election Day was the time when millions of Americans can show 45 his hate will not be tolerated. Democrats were hoping for huge wins in Florida, Georgia, Texas and, hopefully, taking back the House. Therefore, it was crucial that Black folks show up to vote, especially considering the arduous history of African-Americans in fighting for the right to vote in the U.S.
If you need a little inspiration, here are songs from Nina Simone, Bob Dylan, Billie Holiday and others. Hopefully, these classics will make you raise your fist, shout for freedom and cast a vote for justice.
10. Oh Freedom
“Oh Freedom” channeled slavery with powerful lyrics like, “Before I’ll be a slave, I’ll be buried in my grave, and go home to my Lord and be free.” This was an inspiring call for freedom. Listen to Shirley Verrett’s powerful version below.
9. We Shall Not Be Moved
This song represented the determination of freedom fights in the face of government and social oppression, as the lyric says, “Like a tree that stands by the water, we shall not be moved.” The version below from the legendary Mavis Staples will certainly move you.
8. Go Tell It On The Mountain
The song uses Biblical analogies and the story of Moses freeing the Jews from Egypt as an analogy for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Civil Rights movement. The line, “Set my people free,” encapsulates everything that needs to be said in the fight for equality. Listen Peter Tosh’s version below.
7. Times They Are A Changin’
This song by Bob Dylan captured the spirit and essence of the change and turmoil that surrounded the Civil Rights era. Released in 1964, the song became an international hit, even charting at number nine on the British charts.
6. Lift Every Voice And Sing
The Negro National Anthem, written by James Weldon Johnson in 1900, took on a new meaning during the Civil Rights movement when its prophecy became truth. Check out Ray Charles’ powerful rendition below.
5. Strange Fruit
Billie Holiday‘s “Strange Fruit” captured the ugliness of lynchings in the South. Written as a poem by Abel Meeropol, who was of Jewish and Russian descent, in 1934, Billie Holiday recorded the it as a song in 1939. The recording sold one million copies, which is her biggest-selling single. The song has lasted for decades and was definitely an anthem during the the Civil Rights movement of the 1960’s. Watch Billie sing the song below.
4. People Get Ready
This Curtis Mayfield song was released in 1965 and captured the optimism and excitement of the Civil Rights era. The song is still relevant and powerful today.
Jazz musician John Coltrane did not need lyrics to highlight the injustice, violence and oppression that African Americans were facing in Alabama. He wrote the 1963 song after hearing about the four girls who were killed in a church bombing in Birmingham. Watch the brilliance below.
2. A Change Is Gonna Come
Sam Cooke’s 1963 song illuminated the struggle and hope for change during the Civil Rights era. According to Wikipedia, “The song was inspired by various personal events in Cooke’s life, most prominently an event in which he and his entourage were turned away from a whites-only motel in Louisiana.”
1. Mississippi Goddam
Nina Simone wrote “Mississippi Goddam” after the murder of Medgar Evers in Mississippi, who was assassinated by a Klansman, and the church bombing in Birmingham, Alabama, which killed four black girls — both happened in 1963. The song is a live recording and Nina embodies the rage of the times. It is the ultimate protest song. Brace yourself and watch Nina’s performance below.