One of the most iconic, brave, and influential Americans died on Monday, January 27th, 2014, at the age of 94.
Pete Seeger was the voice of the Viet Nam war protests, the unions, the disenfranchised, the poor. His songs, “We Will Overcome,” “If I Had a Hammer,” “Turn, Turn, Turn,” and “Where Have All the Flowers Gone?” are the American soundtrack of most of the last century.
As The Nation said about him:
“Seeger was a much-acclaimed and innovative guitarist and banjoist, a globe-trotting song collector, and the author of many songbooks and musical how-to manuals. In addition to being a World War II veteran, he was on the front lines of every key progressive crusade during his lifetime—labor unions and migrant workers in the 1930s and 1940s, the banning of nuclear weapons and opposition to the Cold War in the 1950s, civil rights and the anti–Vietnam War movement in the 1960s, environmental responsibility and opposition to South African apartheid in the 1970s, and, always, human rights throughout the world.”
As Pete Seeger himself said at the hearings of the House Un-American Activities Committee of the early 1950s, when the lives of so many talented artists, writers, directors, actors, politicians, and gay people were ruined by the Communist red-baiting of Senator Joe McCarthy:
Mr. SEEGER: “I have sung for Americans of every political persuasion, and I am proud that I never refuse to sing to an audience, no matter what religion or color of their skin, or situation in life. I have sung in hobo jungles, and I have sung for the Rockefellers, and I am proud that I have never refused to sing for anybody.”
With thanks to Diana Spiegel, Town Meeting Member of Brookline, Massachusetts, who brought these links to my attention, here is more information on Pete Seeger:
The Nation magazine: “Pete Seeger brought the world together”
Now on PBS: “Pete Seeger, The Power of Song”