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Hear "If I Had a Hammer"
The YouTube website has vignettes of several performances of the song, "If I Had a Hammer." One video includes clips of performances by Peter, Paul, and Mary; Trini Lopez; the Mitch Miller Band; and Pete Seeger, who wrote the song with Lee Hays when they were members of The Weavers.
Pete Seeger and Protest Music
A rich resource for sing-along songs from folk and political traditions is Rise Up Singing, a spiral-bound resource book of song lyrics and guitar chords conceived, developed, and edited by Peter Blood and Annie Patterson (Bethlehem, PA: Sing Out Publications, 2004).
Rent or purchase the DVD documentary, If I Had a Hammer: Pete Seeger and the American Quest for Justice, produced by Tim Brachocki and available from the Syracuse Alternative Media Network (SAMN). From the SAMN website:
Pete Seeger has been a singer and songwriter since 1939. He traveled the country performing with Woody Guthrie and together they became part of The Almanac Singers. In the early 1950s, Pete was a member of The Weavers and they had a number of national hit songs. Seeger was blacklisted and cited for Contempt of Congress by the House Committee on Un-American Activities for refusing to testify in 1955. The song, "If I had a Hammer," was written in support of progressive movements in 1949 and has since become known around the world. He was a vocal critic against the Vietnam War and his song "Where Have All the Flowers Gone?" has become a popular anti-war anthem... He has employed music throughout his life to entertain, educate, and organize people concerning issues of peace and social justice.
Read a short introduction to the various movements for reform in our democracy. Visit the website of the Civil Liberties Monitoring Project, and read "The Role of Civil Disobedience in Democracy" by Kayla Starr, adapted by Bonnie Blackberry.
An essay by Peter Suber which originally appeared in Philosophy of Law: An Encyclopedia edited by Christopher B. Gray (Garland Pub. Co., 1999) may be read online: "About 'Civil Disobedience' by Henry David Thoreau, 1849." Here is an excerpt from Suber's essay:
While Walden can be applied to almost anyone's life, "Civil Disobedience" is like a venerated architectural landmark: it is preserved and admired, and sometimes visited, but for most of us there are not many occasions when it can actually be used. Still, although it is seldom mentioned without references to Gandhi and King, "Civil Disobedience" has more history than many suspect. In the 1940's it was read by the Danish resistance, in the 1950's it was cherished by people who opposed McCarthyism, in the 1960's it was influential in the struggle against South African apartheid, and in the 1970's it was discovered by a new generation of anti-war activists. The lesson learned from all this experience is that Thoreau's ideas really do work, just as he imagined they would.
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