During a Black Lives Matter conference at Cleveland State University, a 14-year-old boy was violently arrested for allegedly being intoxicated. The conference broke out into protest, as they blocked the police and chanted the lyrics to Kendrick Lamar’s controversial single, Alright. “We gon’ be alright!” they repeated.
However, Lamar is not the only celebrity to release a song in response to social injustice. Many musicians have written and performed songs about movements for social justice that continue to inspire activism to this day.
Prince recently released a song inspired by the protests in Baltimore, in which he sings, “are we gonna see another bloody day? We’re tired of the cryin’ and people dyin’. Let’s take all the guns away.” While singing such evoking lyrics, Prince shows various clips of the Baltimore protests throughout the video.
Marvin Gaye – “What’s Going On?”
After seeing the police brutality and violence during anti-war protests in Berkeley, Marvin Gaye was compelled to ask how the nation got to such a disgraceful state. We’re still asking, Marvin.
Common, John Legend – “Glory”
Common and John Legend’s Oscar-winning song not only helps us remember the 1965 marches for voting rights in Selma, Alabama, but it reminds us that there’s still a long way to go.
Sam Cooke – “A Change Is Gonna Come”
After experiencing racism and segregation in the South, Sam Cooke wrote the slow, sad song that’s still being sung at marches, rallies and protests to this day.
Public Enemy – “Fight The Power”
Public Enemy perfectly expresses a nation’s frustration with racism and police brutality in American cities in this lead single of Spike Lee’s iconic film Do The Right Thing.
Michael Jackson – “They Don’t Care About Us”
One of MJ’s most controversial records, “They Don’t Care About Us” was the in-your-face outcry against human rights abuses around the world, including police brutality.
Bob Marley – “Get Up, Stand Up”
Bob Marley penned this reggae hit after witnessing the intense poverty in Haiti. The song is a reminder to take a stand and fight for what’s right.
James Brown – “Say It Loud, I’m Black and I’m Proud”
This record became the anthem of the Black Power movement as African Americans across the country took pride in their skin color and culture.
Tupac – “Changes”
Tupac shines a light on issues that unfortunately still plague the Black community such as drugs, violence, racism and violence.
Billie Holliday – “Strange Fruit”
Billie Holiday’s slowly sung lyrics about lynched Blacks in the South will haunt your spirit and will make you want to act out against any modern day racism we witness.