Multimedia Collection

We Shall Overcome: The Song That Moved a Nation

58 minutes
M167 .W41 1989

We Shall Overcome traces the origins of a social movement through a single song. Harry Belafonte narrates as the film uncovers the diverse strands of social history which flowed together to form the Civil Rights movement. This stirring documentary takes us back to the days of slavery when the spiritual "I Will Overcome" helped blacks endure hardship and brutality. In a 1945 Charleston tobacco strike, workers adapted this song to become their rallying cry. Then, at Highlander Center in Tennessee, white folksingers Pete Seeger and Guy Carawan encountered the song, changed the lyrics to "We Shall Overcome" and taught it to the young activists of the Civil Rights movement.

Andrew Young, Julian Bond, the SNCC Freedom Singers and other veterans of the sixties reminisce about what this song meant to them over footage of the sit­ins, voter registration drives and protest marches they led. We watch folksingers Peter, Paul and Mary introduce the song to audiences across the country and Joan Baez sing it at the historic 1963 March on Washington. Today, around the globe, peace, anti­nuclear, and environmental activists, even Bishop Tutu, are still inspired by "We Shall Overcome."

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