“We Shall Overcome”: Activist Pete Seeger

28.01.2014 - USA - Amy Goodman

“We Shall Overcome”: Activist Pete Seeger
(Image by Pete Seeger)

The legendary folk singer and activist Pete Seeger died Monday at the age of 94. For nearly seven decades, Seeger was a musical and political icon who helped create the modern American folk music movement. We air highlights of two appearances by Seeger on Democracy Now!, including one of his last television interviews recorded just four months ago. Interspersed in the interviews, Seeger sings some of his classic songs, “We Shall Overcome,” “If I Had a Hammer” and “Where Have All the Flowers Gone.” He also talks about what has been described as his “defiant optimism.” “Realize that little things lead to bigger things. That’s what [the album] ‘Seeds’ is all about,” Seeger said. “And there’s a wonderful parable in the New Testament: The sower scatters seeds. Some seeds fall in the pathway and get stamped on, and they don’t grow. Some fall on the rocks, and they don’t grow. But some seeds fall on fallow ground, and they grow and multiply a thousandfold. Who knows where some good little thing that you’ve done may bring results years later that you never dreamed of.”

Seeger led an illustrious musical career. In the 1940s, he performed in The Almanac Singers with Woody Guthrie. Then he formed The Weavers. In the 1950s, he was blacklisted after he opposed Senator Joseph McCarthy’s political witch hunt and was almost jailed for refusing to answer questions before the House Un-American Activities Committee. Seeger became a prominent civil rights activist and helped popularize the anthem “We Shall Overcome.” In the 1960s, he was a vocal critic of the Vietnam War and inspired generations of protest singers. He was later at the center of the environmental and anti-nuclear movements. With his wife Toshi, Pete helped found Clearwater, a group to clean up the Hudson River. Toshi died last year just weeks before their 70th wedding anniversary. In 2009, he and Bruce Springsteen performed Guthrie’s “This Land is Your Land” on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial at an inaugural concert for Barack Obama.

The legendary folk singer and activist Pete Seeger died Monday at the age of 94. For nearly seven decades, Pete Seeger was a musical and political icon who helped create the modern American folk music movement. In the 1940s, he performed in The Almanac Singers with Woody Guthrie. Then he formed The Weavers. In the ’50s, he opposed Senator Joseph McCarthy’s witch hunt and was almost jailed for refusing to answer questions before the House Un-American Activities Committee. Pete Seeger became a prominent civil rights activist and helped popularize the anthem, “We Shall Overcome.” He was also a vocal critic of the Vietnam War and inspired a generation of protest singers. Later in his life, Pete was at the center of the environmental and anti-nuclear movements. With his wife Toshi, Pete Seeger helped found Clearwater, a group to clean up the Hudson River. Toshi Seeger died last year, just weeks before their 70th wedding anniversary. In 2009, Pete and Bruce Springsteen performed Woody Guthrie’s “This Land is Your Land” on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial at an inaugural concert for Barack Obama, when he first became president.

Categories: Culture and Media, International, North America, Opinions

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