The Washington Post

Music of the Movement: We Shall Overcome

What would a civil rights meeting have been without the audience singing “We Shall Overcome.”


Johnson and King meet at the White House in March 1966. (LBJ LIBRARY PHOTO BY YOICHI R. OKAMOTO)

The song was a comfort to Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) when he was almost beaten to death in the South. The title was used in a speech President Lyndon Johnson gave to the country about civil rights. It continues to be used in global struggles for human rights.

This selection continues a survey of songs of the Civil Rights era, tied to the opening of the Rev. Martin L. King, Jr. memorial. At the March on Washington in 1963, the song echoed over the Lincoln Memorial.

Here’s folksinger Joan Baez.

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