Overview

The lessons below explore the integral role music has played in major social justice movements in American history. In two introductory lessons, students examine how “the beat” in American popular music has both brought people together and threatened the status quo, and they discover how musical performance has been used as a way to promote awareness and encourage activism. The collection then details music’s role in specific social justice movements, from the Civil Rights, Anti-War, and Women’s movements in the 1960s to the Black Power and Red Power movements in the early 1970s. In Civil Disobedience: Fighting Segregation in New Orleans, students consider how small, individual actions might contribute to social justice. The path includes the 2-part lesson Sun City: A Musical Force against Apartheid, which recounts how an international community of musicians helped bring an end to South African Apartheid. The pathway also offers a more contemporary lesson examining connections between Pop star Kesha’s court battles and the #MeToo movement.