For as long as people have been protesting, they’ve also been singing about it. From Woody Guthrie’s leftist national anthem “This Land is Your Land” to Sam Cooke’s soulful “A Change is Gonna Come,” movement music has fostered hope and brought people together throughout history.
Perhaps no one knows the power of music in organizing better than the Peace Poets, a hip-hop and spoken word collective from Harlem, New York. The group, comprised of Frankie Lopez, Lu Aya, Frantz Jerome, Emmanuel Candelario and Abraham Velasquez, Jr., often refer to themselves as a family. Some of the members have known each other from age 3, while others met in college. Together, they’ve written songs that address social and political crises in over 40 countries. Their songs have been used in the Women’s March, the Standing Rock protests, and most famously, Black Lives Matter protests after the death of Eric Garner. In 2014, their song “I Can’t Breathe” went viral after actor Samuel L. Jackson recorded himself singing the song in solidarity with the protesters.
Read the story here, watch the videos: ‘Music is a living thing’ — a conversation on movement music with the Peace Poets – Waging Nonviolence | Waging Nonviolence