Latimore: Following advocacy example led by Pete Seeger

February 7, 2014 

If we made full use of our power, as artists, we could have the ability to influence the change we would like to see in our communities. There is no wonder our neighborhoods are covered with blight and neglect. Many of us have dropped the ball and are afraid to stand up for what we believe to be right.

Fortunately, artists such as the late Pete Seeger were not afraid to suffer the consequences that come with demanding justice and peace among humans. He used his banjo as a gun and his lyrics as the bullets. His choice to fight against inequality was dangerous.

Often times, he received death threats from individuals and organizations. In addition, he was labeled as a communist and blacklisted by the federal government because he was affiliated with communist party groups at a very young age.

Although he was acquitted of those accusations, Seeger continued to demand social change. He collected, wrote, re-made and collaborated folk music from the 1940s until his death last week.

Seeger was great at stepping into a cause and helping others have a voice in defending themselves. His activism covered an array of subjects ranging from children to blue collar workers and civil rights protesters, just to name a few. As a matter of fact, he revised the song titled, “We Shall Overcome,” which has been coined as the official song of America’s civil rights movement in the 1960s.

His ability to engage other artists and citizens to a cause through his music and by organizing festivals and performances for protest was a very powerful tool that we should feel responsible to keep alive. He passed away at the ripe age of 94. However, his legacy and movement will continue to live on in the world of music and art.

Yolanda “Y-O” Latimore is founder of Poetic Peace Arts, Macon’s representative on the Knight National Arts Advisory Board and director of Like Water Publicity, a media and booking agency. Contact her at ylatimore@gmail.com.

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