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Dr. King Affirms Power of “Freedom Songs”

Aug. 19, 1962 - Negro folk music, which has been singing of a promised land since the days of slavery, has become a vital force in the attempt to fulfill that promise in the South today. Integration leaders agree that music sets the tempo of their movement. A survey of Albany, Ga., Durham, N.C., and other tension points throughout the South indicates that spirituals, hymns, and gospel songs help bolster the morale of integrationists and disarm the hostility of segregationists. The “freedom songs,” old and new, are used at mass meetings, demonstrations, prayer vigils, on Freedom Rides, in jails, and before sit-ins. “The freedom songs are playing a strong and vital role in our struggle,” says Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. “They give the people new courage and a sense of unity. I think they keep alive a faith, a radiant hope in the future, particularly in our most trying hours.”


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