Protest songs seem to have been around since people first made music. There isn’t a civic movement that hasn’t had songs attached to them. But did you know that while protest songs came into their own during the late 1800s and early 1900s as part of industrialization and the labor movements, there are records of protest songs dating back to the 14th century?
The one song many of us are familiar with is “We Shall Overcome” which first became widely known during the Civil Rights Movement. It’s attributed to a hymn written in 1901 "I'll Overcome Some Day” by Charles Albert Tindley.
The height of protest music was in the 1960s and 70s. We often know the folk musicians that were associated with protest music such as Pete Seeger or have heard the religious music that was popular during the Civil Rights Movement. However, protest music isn’t confined to those decades. People are still writing songs protesting wars, environmental concerns, human rights and even presidential campaigns. From John Legend's Wake up! to D’angelo’s 1000 Deaths music will continue to be an outlet for protest.