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MLK Day 2018

From James Brown to Beyonce: Protest Music Inspired by Dr. King

Music has always been a key element to social evolution. In fact, 2009 documentary Soundtrack for a Revolution, examines the Civil Rights Movement with an emphasis on how music of the day affected its progress.

Musicians and artists like The Roots, John Legend, Anthony Hamilton and more have covered iconic anthems, spirituals and protest songs crafted by greats like Billie Holiday, Nina Simone and more, specifically to bring about hope within the black consciousness as well as actual change within society.

The importance of music within any movement cannot be emphasized enough, providing a source of solidarity and comfort among those fighting for change while energizing others to continue the battle.

Modern day anthems, such as Kendrick Lamar’s “Alright” or Beyoncé’s “Freedom,” provide a similar soundtrack for today’s marches and protests, giving encouragement to Black Lives Matter activists and all of those continuing the work of those who came before us.

Check out the protest music that both inspired Dr. King and were born of his influence.

Billie Holiday – “Strange Fruit”

Lead Belly – “The Bourgeois Blues”

Bob Dylan – “The Death of Emmitt Till”

Sam Cooke – “A Change Is Gonna Come”

Nina Simone –  “Mississippi Goddam”

Nina Simone – “To Be Young, Gifted & Black”

James Brown – “Say It Loud (I’m Black and I’m Proud)”

James Brown – “I Don’t Want Nobody to Give Me Nothing”

Gil Scott Heron – “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised”

Marvin Gaye – “What’s Going On”

2Pac – “Changes”

J. Cole – “Be Free”

Kendrick Lamar – “Alright”

Beyonce – “Freedom”

Solange – A Seat at the Table

Joey Bada$$ – “Land of the Free”

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