O/T — “We Shall Overcome” Co-Promoter Heads Out, Into The Universe: Fly Well, Guy Carawan

Though the antecedents for the melody date to Beethoven, and the lyrics were written and rewritten in the centuries since, perhaps no one more co-promoted what became the de facto anthem of the US Civil Rights Movement more than young Guy Carawan [excepting of course, Pete Seeger — and Joan Baez].

Guy passed last Saturday evening — in rural eastern Tennessee, at home. The Universe is certainly taking this son home, now.

Do go read it all in the Gray Lady:

. . . .Mr. Carawan, a white folk singer and folklorist who died on Saturday at 87, did not write “We Shall Overcome,” nor did he claim to. The song, variously a religious piece, a labor anthem and a hymn of protest, had woven in and out of American oral tradition for centuries, embodying the country’s twinned history of faith and struggle. Over time, it was further polished by professional songwriters.

But in teaching it to hundreds of delegates at the inaugural meeting of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee — held in Raleigh on April 15, 1960 — Mr. Carawan fathered the musical manifesto that, more than any other, became “the ‘Marseillaise’ of the integration movement,” as The New York Times described it in 1963. . . .

Fly well, Mr. Carawan. Here is a Morehouse Mens’ Choir version:

And an older Diana Ross version in Budapest:

And — best for last! — Mahalia Jackson (late 1960s version):


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