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Arts > Music > 20th, 21st century > USA > Folk, Folk Rock, Bluegrass, Country > Guy Hughes Carawan Jr.    1927-2015




Guy Carawan singing “We Shall Overcome”

with protesters at Virginia State University in 1960.


Photograph: Eve Arnold/Magnum Photos


Guy Carawan Dies at 87; Taught a Generation to Overcome, in Song

By MARGALIT FOX        NYT        MAY 7, 2015


























Guy Hughes Carawan Jr.    1927-2015


On an April night in 1960,

Guy Carawan stood before a group

of black students in Raleigh, N.C.,

and sang a little-known

folk song.


With that single stroke,

he created an anthem

that would echo into history,

sung at the Selma-to-Montgomery

marches of 1965,

in apartheid-era South Africa,

in international demonstrations

in support of

the Tiananmen Square protesters,

at the dismantled Berlin Wall

and beyond.


The song was

“We Shall Overcome.”


Mr. Carawan,

a white folk singer

and folklorist (...),

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.














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