It was the early days of the civil rights movement. Across the South, black students staged sit-ins, marches, demonstrations and protests that were violently repressed. In this podcast, two voices from the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) talk about the song “We Shall Overcome” – three simple words that became an anthem of strength and conviction for their movement.
Bernie Lafayette remembers hearing the song in February 1961 during 14 nights of demonstrations to enter the movie theaters of Nashville, Tennessee. Cordelia Jackson first heard the song in March of that year at a sit-in at the Jackson, Mississippi public library. “In my heart, when I was worried about my friends in jail, and how they might be pulled out and lynched or anything, I heard those voices saying: ‘We Shall Overcome.'”
These interviews were conducted in 1962 in Chicago on the occasion of a concert there by the Freedom Singers. The newly-formed quartet was touring the country in support of civil rights and the goals of SNCC.
Reporter Brandi Howell produced this podcast using with archival audio of an interview conducted by Studs Terkel in 1962. The archival audio used in this episode comes courtesy of the Studs Terkel Radio Archive from the WFMT Radio Network in Chicago. Visit them at www.studsterkel.org or follow them on Twitter and Instagram @StudsArchive.
You can find this podcast, along with thousands of archival recordings, at popuparchive.com/explore