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Lesson

The Power of Protest: Songs of Struggle and Hope

Estoy Aquí: Music of the Chicano Movement / The Power of Protest: Songs of Struggle and Hope

Music has been an important part of every social movement throughout history. During the Chicano movement, music was used in a wide variety of contexts (rallies, meetings, marches, picket lines, etc…). Protest songs, in particular, provided a way for people to express their struggles and motivated/inspired them to take a stand against the injustices that were happening all around them. These songs united people who were working towards a common goal, helping them to feel a little less alone. Within this lesson, students will engage with recordings of two well-known protest songs that were translated into Spanish and adapted to match events that were happening during the Chicano movement: "We Shall Overcome" (Nosotros venceremos) and "We Shall Not Be Moved" (No nos moverán).

Lesson Components & Learning Objectives

  1. We Shall Overcome/Nosotros venceremos

    • Explain how “Nosotros venceremos”/”We Shall Overcome” was translated adapted from a different context and became a powerful symbol of protest during the Chicano movement.
    • Approx. 30 minutes
  2. Students in the Chicano Movement

    • Explain how “No nos moverán”/”We Shall Not Be Moved” was translated and adapted from a different context and became a powerful symbol of protest during the Chicano movement.
    • Describe the contributions of young people (students) during the Chicano movement.
    • Demonstrate the musical and expressive qualities of an effective protest song.
    • 30–45 minutes
  3. Creating a Protest Playlist

    • Create your own annotated “protest” playlist and evaluate your chosen songs’ effectiveness as protest songs.
    • Approx. 30 minutes

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Bibliography

Text

Azcona, E. C., & Rodriguez, R. (2005). On Rolas de Aztlán: Songs of the Chicano movement [Liner notes]. Washington DC: Smithsonian Folkways Recordings.

Montoya, M. (2016). The Chicano movement for beginners. For Beginner Books.

Rosales, F. A. (1996). Chicano! The history of the Mexican American civil rights movement. Arte Público Press.

Santelli, R. (2019). Pete Seeger: Celebrating the power of song [Introduction]. In Pete Seeger: The Smithsonian Folkways collection, p. 12-18. Smithsonian Folkways Recordings.

Schippers, H. (2019). Connecting people, engaging communities. In The social power of music, p. 13–15. Smithsonian Folkways Recordings.

Schippers, H., & Motley, S. L. (2019). Forward. In The social power of music, p. 8. Smithsonian Folkways Recordings.

Seeger, A. (2019). Songs of struggle. In The social power of music, p. 16–19. Smithsonian Folkways Recordings.

Spener, D. (2016). We shall not be moved/no nos moverán: Biography of a song of struggle. Temple University Press.

Zettler, J. (2009). Corridos of the Chicano movement [Liner notes]. Arhoolie Records.

Audio*

The Freedom Singers (1997). We shall overcome [Audio recording]. On Voices of the civil rights movement: Black American freedom songs 1960–1966 [Album]. Smithsonian Folkways Recordings.

Various Artists (1997). We shall overcome [Audio recording]. On Voices of the civil rights movement: Black American freedom songs 1960–1966 [Album]. Smithsonian Folkways Recordings.

Seeger, P. (2019). We shall overcome [Audio recording]. On The Smithsonian Folkways collection: Pete Seeger [Album]. Smithsonian Folkways Recordings.

El Teatro Campesino (1976). Nosotros venceremos [Audio recording]. On Huelga en general! [Album]. Menyah Records.

Fuentes, R. (2009). Walk-out en Crystal City [Audio recording]. On Corridos of the Chicano movement [Album]. Arhoolie Records.

La Rondalla Amerindia de Aztlán (2005). No nos moverán [Audio recording]. On Rolas de Aztlán: Songs of the Chicano movement [Album]. Smithsonian Folkways Recordings.

Seeger, P. (1980). We shall not be moved [Audio recording]. On Singalong Sanders Theater, 1980 [Album]. Smithsonian Folkways Recordings.

Images*

Unknown artist (n.d.). Puerto Rican independence fighters [Photograph]. Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives and Collections, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC. From the Pardon Records Collection.

Karales, J. (1963). Singing “we shall overcome,” Sixteenth Street Baptist Church [Photograph]. National Museum of African American History and Culture, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC. Gift of Monica Karales and the Estate of James Karales, 2015.129.39

Davies, D. J. (n.d.). The Freedom Singers [Photograph]. In The best of Broadside 1962–1988: Anthems of the American underground from the pages of Broadside Magazine [Liner notes], 2000, p. 76. Smithsonian Folkways Recordings, Washington, DC. Provided by the Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives and Collections, Smithsonian Institution, SFW40130.

Davies, D. J. (1965). Fannie Lou Hamer [Photograph]. In Songs my mother taught me [Liner notes], 2015, p. 19. Smithsonian Folkways Recordings, Washington, DC. Provided by the Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives and Collections, Smithsonian Institution, SFW40216.

Grossman, S. (ca. 1946). Pete Seeger [Gelatin silver print]. National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC. Courtesy of the Howard Greenberg Gallery, NYC, NPG.94.85.

Unknown artist (ca. 1958). Songs with Guy Carawan [Cover art]. Folkways Records, New York, NY, FG 3544.

Unknown artist (1970). Viva la causa! Nosotros venceremos! [Poster]. National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC, 1986.0231.138.

Lewis, J. (1966). El Teatro [Photograph]. In Songs of struggle and hope [Liner notes], 2016, p. 20. Smithsonian Folkways Recordings, Washington, DC, SFW40567. Jon Lewis Photographs, Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library, © Yale University.

Unknown artist (1963). We shall overcome [Photo deco]. National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC. Reverend Walter Fauntroy, 251855.01.

Unknown artist (1969). Students posed around high school sign during a boycott in Crystal City, Texas on Dec. 22, 1969 [Photograph]. In Forgotten history: Chicano student walkouts changed Texas, but inequities remain [Online article], by Suzanne Gamboa. NBC News, 2019. Courtesy of San Antonio Light Photograph Collection, UTSA Special Collections.

Unknown artist (1969). Student walkout in Crystal City, Texas on Dec. 20, 1969 [Photograph]. In Forgotten history: Chicano student walkouts changed Texas, but inequities remain [Online article], by Suzanne Gamboa. NBC News, 2019. Courtesy of San Antonio Light Photograph Collection, UTSA Special Collections.

Strachwitz, C. (1972). Rumel Fuentes [Photograph]. In Corridos of the Chicano movement [Cover art excerpt], cover design by W. Pope, 2009. Arhoolie Records, El Cerrito, CA, ARH00507.

Unknown artist (late 1960s). Student protest t-shirt [Silkscreen print on t-shirt]. National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC. William Rutledge, 1985.0363.01.

Powers, M. J. (1968). Black panthers [Photograph]. National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC. Gift of Gilberto Cárdenas and Dolores García, 2013.0222.21.

Torero, M. (1977). You are not a minority!! [Offset lithograph on paper]. Smithsonian American Art Museum, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC, 2020.9.

Garza, L. C. (1968). Rally at Placita Park [Photograph]. In La Raza photograph collection (#1000). Courtesy of UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center, Los Angeles, CA. Gift of Mario Acevedo Torero.

Rodriguez, G. (1974). Sal Castro [Gelatin silver print]. National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC. Acquisition made possible through the Smithsonian Latino Initiatives Pool, administered by the Smithsonian Latino Center, NPG.2015.58.

Wilmot, L. (n.d.). Mariachi violinists [Photograph]. Dreamstime, 40354443.

LeGerrette, C. (ca. 1973). La Rondalla Amerindia de Aztlán [Photograph]. In Rolas de Aztlán: Songs of the Chicano movement [Liner notes], 2005, p. 15. Smithsonian Folkways Recordings, Washington, DC., SFW40516. Courtesy of UC San Diego Library, Farmworker Movement Documentation Project.

Davies, D. J. (1968). Peace march and rally, New York City: Crowd of protesters [Photograph negatives]. In Peace songs of the 1960s [Online article] by Ronald D. Cohen. Smithsonian Folkways Magazine, Spring/Summer 2013. Smithsonian Folkways, Washington, DC. Photo provided by the Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives and Collections, Smithsonian Institution, CFCH.DAVIE, File FP-DAVI-BWNE-0397A.

Communication Visual (2009). Classic protest songs from Smithsonian Folkways [Cover art]. Smithsonian Folkways Recordings, Washington, DC. Photograph by Diana Jo Davies, provided by the Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives and Collections, Smithsonian Institution, SFW40197.

*Audio, video, and images listed in order of appearance in slideshow