The struggle for civil rights has been an ongoing issue for over 400 years. African Americans have fought fiercely to gain their freedom and equal rights in America. In honor of black history month.

Here are 10 important songs that helped shape the movement and created change.

N.W.A.  “Fuck Tha Police”

34 years ago. N.W.A. dropped what would become an urban anthem for racial injustice by the police against blacks.” Fuck Tha Police.”  The song gained so much attention that it provoked the FBI to write a letter to their record company Ruthless Records expressing their dissatisfaction with the lyrics stating that it misrepresented the police.

James Brown   “Say it Loud. I’m Black and I’m Proud”

From as far back as we can remember. African Americans have been denigrated because of the color of their skin. 54 years ago, James Brown, who is the Godfather of Soul, unleashed the historic song “Say it loud, I’m Black and I’m Proud, ” which was iconic in calling for black people to become more self-sufficient in the economy.

Public Enemy    “Fight The Power”

Released 33 years ago, “Fight the Power” was a song by Public Enemy that contained revolutionary rhetoric, calling for blacks to fight the powers that kept blacks down such as the government, police, and any figure that had authority over the people.

Sam Cooke       ” A Change is Gonna Come”

In 1964, Racism was at the forefront as blacks protested and fought for their freedom, also  going through the struggle at that time, Sam Cooke released one of the most iconic songs till this day, “A Change is Gonna Come.” Which was created to support the Civil Rights Movement.

Marvin Gaye      “What’s Going On”

In 1971. Marvin Gaye released “What’s Going On?” one of the most phenomenal groundbreaking songs of its time. The song addressed racism, drug abuse, and poverty while asking the question what is going on in our country?

Edwin Starr       “WAR”

The song “War” was a protest song released in 1970 about the Vietnam War. Edwin Starr addressed the horrors of being on the battlefield and the meaningless deaths that happened in the war.

Aretha Franklin     “Respect”

Released in 1967 by Aretha Franklin, “Respect” became an anthem for feminists and women’s civil rights. It was a declaration for women to be strong and confident in themselves.

Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five     “The Message”

The Message” was released in 1982 by Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five. It gave the world insight into the stress of inner-city poverty living. This was one of the first successful commercial songs that dealt with socially conscious rap.

Billie Holiday       “Strange Fruit”

Strange Fruit” was made in 1939 as a protest against the lynching of black people. Billie Holiday’s lyrics compared the bodies of the people being hung to different types of fruit on the trees.

Michael Jackson      “Man In The Mirror”

Iconic pop star Michael Jackson released the powerful song “Man In The Mirror” in 1988. The song is about self-exploring one’s own identity and individual contribution to society. Michael wanted the people to know in order for the world to change in the right direction that it had to start with ‘self.

Photo credits:

NWA pic credited by Joe Gamp*James Brown pic credited by Corey Irwin*Public Enemy pic credited by UDiscovermusic*Sam Cook pic credited by Seuras Og*Marvin Gaye pic credited by PR*Edwin Starr pic credited by UDiscovermusic*

Grandmaster Flash pic credited by*Billie Holiday pic credited by*Michael Jackson pic credited by Tim Hill*Aretha Franklin pic credited by Last.Fm

Courtesy of Ja Burns

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