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Arts & Culture

Protest Music: Then and Now

Uncle Pockets
Flickr Creative Commons

Music can be a powerful, transformative tool in the quest for social change. Protest songs are the songs associated with a particular movement.

Earlier this month, Janelle Monáe and Wondaland produced the searing protest song "Hell You Talmbout." Nearly seven minutes long, it's a tribute to a long list of black men and women lost, and has been performed alongside protesters at Black Lives Matter rallies.

This hour, we explore the origins of protest music, and find out how it has evolved into what we hear today.


  • Anthony Rauche - Associate Professor of Ethnomusicology and Music Theory at the University of Hartford.
  • Salamishah Tillet - Associate Professor of English at the University of Pennsylvania and recently published the article “The Return of the Protest Song” in Time.
  • Bishop John Selders - Recently completed a trip called All Roads Lead to Ferguson as part of the Black Lives Matter movement.
  • Hugh Blumenfeld- Singer-songwriter. He plays his protest music live in studio.

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Colin McEnroe and Chion Wolf contributed to this show, which originally aired on August 25th, 2015.


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