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Morning over the bay

Music of Freedom

Plough Music Series

Colin Fields

  • Christian Smith

    Wow! that was a great article my thoughts on it were that she made her song to make people feel happy feel happy. She did not commit any violent acts going to her cause, her song was created and sung to let people know that some day things will change and that you will go on to live a happy life.

  • Robbie B.

    This was an amazing article and song. The song and article were able to summarize the racial discrimination that African Americans went through during this time period really well. They also displayed that even though African Americans went through so much, they were still able to persevere and recieve the rights that they deserved all along

  • Aidan P.

    To me it seems like Hamer used her own life experience to bring a different kind of energy and positivity to the Civil Rights Movement. Instead of protesting in the same manor that other activists do, she decided to do it through song, and put out a message that equality will come, while at the same time she is boosting the morale of other activists.

  • Rebecca C.

    It is very inspirational to know that even though African Americans went throughout so much discrimination and oppression, they were willing to persevere through it all in order to make a difference in our society.

  • Alejandro Lagos

    This is a very good article! So many things you can learn when you have an open heart toward God. I pray for that we could be the change in our society, not only others.

  • G. Vincent Lewis

    The experience of reading the above article and listening to music by Sam Cooke that was correlated to the era was inspiring, encouraging and a gentle reminder of the importance of becoming involved in changing things for the better!

  • Clare daubeny

    Gosh I liked that! I love the fact these are ordinairy people like you and me who through much struggle and heartache overcome their 'human' desire for revenge etc and choose this path. Such encouragement and companionship for me to push on and pursue this course in my own incy wincy battles in comparison to theirs! Yours Clare Daubeny

Fannie Lou Hamer was the twentieth child born to a sharecropping family on a Mississippi plantation. She grew up picking cotton – by the time she was thirteen, she picked two to three hundred pounds of cotton every day – and endured the degradation and violence of Jim Crow society.

By the time she was in her thirties, Fannie Lou Hamer had had enough. She became involved in the growing Civil Rights Movement led by Martin Luther King, volunteering for the voter registration campaign, a dangerous project that cost many activists their lives. Riding in 1962 in a rented bus with people who wanted to register, she led her companions in songs like “Go Tell it on the Mountain” and “This Little Light of Mine.” Singing not only brought courage, but was a reminder that the cause of justice is the cause of the God of righteousness – like King, Hamer fought injustice based on a deep grounding in the Bible and in Christian faith.

Two years later, thousands of volunteers came to Mississippi for “Freedom Summer” to continue voter registration efforts. Hamer was at the center of the action, organizing, exhorting, and singing. In a talk she gave at a Baptist school in Indianola, Mississippi in September 1964, she pointed out that God needs people to do his work:

We want people, we want people over us that’s concerned about the people because we are human beings. Regardless of how they have abused us for all these years, we always cared what was going on. We have prayed and we have hoped for God to bring about a change. And now the time have come for people to stand up.

Because God care. God care and we care. And we can no longer ignore the fact that we can’t sit down and wait for things to change because as long as they can keep their feet on our neck, they will always do it. But it’s time for us to stand up and be women and men.

Reflecting on the events of 1964, musician Sam Cooke, known as the “King of Soul,” wrote “A Change Is Gonna Come.” It is now fifty years since Freedom Summer, and time to reflect again on what has happened since then and the changes that still must be made to make Martin Luther King’s “beloved community” a reality.


I was born by the river in a little tent
Oh and just like the river I’ve been running ever since
It’s been a long, a long time coming
But I know a change gonna come, oh yes it will

It’s been too hard living but I’m afraid to die
Cause I don’t know what’s up there beyond the sky
It’s been a long, a long time coming
But I know a change gonna come, oh yes it will

I go to the movie and I go downtown somebody keep
telling me don’t hang around
It’s been a long, a long time coming
But I know a change gonna come, oh yes it will

Then I go to my brother
And I say brother help me please
But he winds up knockin’ me
Back down on my knees

There been times that I thought I couldn’t last for long
But now I think I’m able to carry on
It’s been a long, a long time coming
But I know a change gonna come, oh yes it will

About the photo: Dated June 19, 1964, student volunteers at a civil rights training camp in Canton, Ohio, link arms and sing, “We Shall Overcome,” before travelling to Mississippi to register voters for the summer. Photo Credit: © Steve Schapiro/Corbis

student volunteers at a civil rights training camp June 1964, student volunteers at a civil rights training camp sing We Shall Overcome
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