Motley Moose – Archive

Since 2008 – Progress Through Politics

Don’t Miss – A Celebration of Music from the Civil Rights Movement

Tonight PBS will air:

In Performance at the White House: A Celebration of Music from the Civil Rights Movement,” is a concert in the White House East Room. President and Mrs. Obama will host the event in honor of Black History Month, and the evening will feature songs from the Civil Rights Movement performed by top entertainers, as well as readings from famous Civil Rights speeches and writings. Artists include Yolanda Adams, Joan Baez, Natalie Cole, Bob Dylan, Jennifer Hudson, John Legend, John Mellencamp, Smokey Robinson, Seal, the Blind Boys of Alabama, the Howard University Choir and The Freedom Singers, featuring Dr. Bernice Johnson Reagon, Rutha Harris, Charles Neblett and Toshi Reagon. Robert De Niro, Morgan Freeman, Queen Latifah and Joanne Woodward will be guest speakers. The music special airs on February 11 at 8 p.m. ET on PBS stations nationwide

Everyone should see the workshop held at the White House for High School students. What is important is that this workshop was webstreamed to students in schools across the USA.

The full video is available at:…


Rhythm and Blues Singer Smokey Robinson (R) speaks as members of The Freedom Singers (L to R) Dr. Bernice Johnson Reagon, Rutha Harris and Charles Neblett) listen, during a workshop ” Music That Inspired the Movement “, where singers talked with high school students about the impact of music on the civil rights movement, at the White House in Washington on February 9, 2010. UPI/Mike Theiler (Newscom TagID: upiphotos992034) [Photo via Newscom]

Message in the music: Earlier in the day, about 120 high school students from across the USA learned about the power of song at Music that Inspired the Movement, a companion afternoon workshop. The Freedom Singers, who traveled more than 50,000 miles to local civil rights campaigns during the 1960s, talked about music as an agent for social change. Although Bernice Johnson Reagon had sung the spiritual This Little Light of Mine all of her life, she said she didn’t understand its meaning until she was jailed during a protest in Albany, Ga., in 1961. “It was saying ‘I’m not hiding. I have a light and I’m going to use it to bring about justice.’ ”

‘Prejudice is ignorance’: Robinson told the multi-ethnic group of students that they were fortunate not to face the kind of racism he experienced traveling through the South with his fellow Motown acts in the 1960s. “There is no race but the human race. We are all the same, and we have no other place to go.”…

Though the massive snowstorms that hit the DC area caused a delay…the show did go on.

Here are President Obama’s opening remarks:

What’s your favorite song from the Civil Rights Movement, or inspired by the movement?

Who’s your favorite group or artist who sings those songs?

I’m biased towards Bernice Reagon and Sweet Honey in the Rock, but as was pointed out in the workshop to HS Students, powerful songs like those by folk musicians Joan Baez, and Bob Dylan are on my list and Sam Cooke’s  “A Change is Gonna Come”, along with “What’s Goin’ On”  by Marvin Gaye get my vote too.

Too many to list!    

(cross-posted at Daily Kos)


  1. HappyinVT

    I saw Smokey and the last part on the website live but I’d love to see the whole thing.

    Further proof that the president isn’t stupid ~ he held that microphone away when he was “singing” although I saw him doing more talking than singing, anyway.

  2. DeniseVelez

    stopped singing – and made everyone there start clapping and singing along to a rousing edition of “Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn me Round”.  

    That was my personal high point 🙂

    Was a great series of performances.

  3. DeniseVelez

    including a snip of the finale “Lift Every Voice and Sing” which I grew up singing as the Negro National Anthem”

    The POTUS was on stage singing with the group.

  4. John Mellencamp just finished. This looks like it’s going to be really good. I’ve got the house to myself so the volume is way up.

    Most of my fellow moose know I like to write poetry. Sometimes I think some of my poems aren’t half bad. Then I hear something like the Sam Cooke song that Yolanda Adams sang and I realize I’ve got a long way to go before I can consider myself to be a good poet.

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