Commentary
7:13 am
Mon January 20, 2014

Freedom Songs, Changing People and a Nation

Non-violence shaped our nation’s Civil Rights Movement of the 1950’s and 1960’s.

Spirituals had also uplifted the hopes of African Americans. But during the Civil Rights Movement, they transformed into 'a call to action' and helped to change a nation.
Credit wikimedia

Many who stood on the front lines to fight segregation say spirituals protected them while tearing down barriers. Lewis A. Brandon, III and Joyce Johnson are executives with the Beloved Community Center in Greensboro. As a young adult, Brandon marched to help desegregate public places in Greensboro. Johnson did the same as a teen in Richmond, Virginia. Dr. Bernice Johnson Reagon also stood up against racial prejudice in Albany, Georgia while attending Albany State College. In December 1961, she led two marches after five students attempted to test the federal Interstate Commerce Commission ruling that required all interstate commerce to have integrated facilities. The students were arrested when they tried to purchase tickets at the Albany bus terminal. Dr. Reagon later became a Civil Rights song composer, historian and is the founder of the Grammy Award-winning ensemble, Sweet Honey In The Rock.

In this special edition of WFDD’s Real People, Real Stories,  they explain to WFDD's Kathryn Mobley how southern Blacks of that era transformed religious songs to fuel this historic movement.
Tomorrow, join us for part two of our special edition of Real People, Real Stories. Tune in and find out who is still affected by Freedom Songs in 2014.

Desegregating Southern states in the United States required faith and song in the 1950's and 1960's.

Southern African Americans anchored in faith and spirituals changed the course of our nation more than 60 years ago. Reverend Nelson Johnson has long fought segregation in the Triad. He’s the co-executive director of the Beloved Community Center in Greensboro. At the same time, Freedom Songs continue to impact a generation of people who did not experience the Civil Rights Movement. Winston-Salem State University Burke Singers Chantel Smith and Briana Maynard say these songs encourage them as they tackle the challenge of finding their place in today's world.

Hear who is still affected by Freedom Songs in 2014.

Winston-Salem State University students agree Freedom Songs will forever hold the seeds of change.