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10 songs for social change - Amnesty International Australia

Public Enemy – Fight the power

Public Enemy – Fight the power

Public Enemy's most famous song, "Fight the Power," was produced for Spike Lee's 1989 film Do the Right Thing.

Speaking to the social and psychological struggles of the American youth, the song criticized racism and encouraged people to fight back.

Most poignant lyric: Our freedom of speech is freedom or death.

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10 songs for social change - Amnesty International Australia

10 songs for social change - Amnesty International Australia

https://www.amnesty.org.au/10-songs-for-social-change/

amnesty.org.au

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Key Ideas

Blowin’ in the Wind – Bob Dylan

In 1963, Bob Dylan's song instantly became a civil rights anthem.

The most poignant lyric: The answer my friend is blowin' in wind.

Public Enemy – Fight the power

Public Enemy's most famous song, "Fight the Power," was produced for Spike Lee's 1989 film Do the Right Thing.

Speaking to the social and psychological struggles of the American youth, the song criticized racism and encouraged people to fight back.

Most poignant lyric: Our freedom of speech is freedom or death.

Strange Fruit – Billie Holiday

This song is about the practice of lynching - when a group of people kills someone for an alleged offense without a fair trial, especially by hanging. The practice was common at the time the song was released in 1939.

Most poignant lyric: Black bodies swinging in the southern breeze | Strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees

From Little Things Big Things Grow

Paul Kelly and Kev Carmody's song is based on the story of the Gurindji Strike in August 1966, mainly due to work and living conditions but ultimately about the return of Gurindji people's land.

Most poignant lyric: Eight years went by, eight long years of waiting | Till one day a tall stranger appeared in the land | And he came with lawyers and he came with great ceremony | And through Vincent’s fingers poured a handful of sand

A Change is Gonna Come – Sam Cooke

In 1963, Sam Cooke, his wife, and his band were refused entry from a "whites only" motel in Louisiana and arrested for disturbing the peace. Some of the lyrics of "A Change is Gonna Come" were inspired by this incident.

Most poignant lyric: It’s been a long, a long time coming | But I know a change gonna come, oh yes it will

Imagine – John Lennon

This song was written during the Vietnam War and asked listeners to imagine a world at peace.

Most poignant lyric: You may say I’m a dreamer | But I’m not the only one | I hope someday you’ll join us | And the world will be as one

Redemption Song – Bob Marley

This song is about historical and modern-day slavery and our fight for physical and emotional freedom.

Most poignant lyric: Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery | None but ourselves can free our minds

Man in the Mirror – Michael Jackson

It's an inspirational song about personal redemption and a positive impact on the world. The song tells us that it's possible for individuals to change the world.

Most poignant lyric: I'm Gonna Make A Change | For Once In My Life | It's Gonna Feel Real Good | Gonna Make A Difference | Gonna Make It Right

One – U2

"One" is said to be inspired by the reunification of Germany after the fall of the Belin Wall in 1989. Others believe the song represents a conversation of acceptance between a person with AIDS and his father.

Most poignant lyric: We’re one, but we’re not the same | We get to Carry each other

Joan Baez – We shall overcome

It is a peaceful protest song that became an anthem of the civil rights movement in the US.

Most poignant lyric: Oh, deep in my heart | I do believe | We shall live in peace someday

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