We dedicate this playlist to the teachers, the educators of our youth. You teach young people the tools to be thoughtful, creative, and successful human beings and we thank you for that. With your long hours of tying shoes, drying tears, stopping fights, giving praise, instilling pride, and fostering ambition, not to mention educating young people in math, science, history, political science, japanese, art, and so much more, you deserve a living wage. These songs are inspired by the protests of people fighting for better lives. They remind us of past struggles and give us hope. We hope they inspire you too.
You can also listen to these songs on Unsweetened’s feminist playlist on spotify.
Ella Jenkins, “Solidarity Forever”
“The First Lady of the Children’s Folk Song” teaches us that the union makes us strong.
The Staple Sisters, “When Will We Be Paid?”
This song dedicated to black history in America is a call for reparations. It is an anti-war and pro-labor anthem.
Hazel Dickens, “They’ll Never Keep Us Down”
No playlist dedicated to pro-union feminism would be complete without the legendary Hazel Dickens.
Alabama Shakes, “Don’t Wanna Fight”
From the inimitable vocal chords of Brittany Howard: “Don’t cross them lines.”
Florence Reese, “Which Side Are You On?”
Reece did not claim to be a singer, but this song is one of the most important accounts of the union movement. Her father was a coal miner who was killed in the mines, and her husband, a union organizer in Kentucky, died of Black Lung. Reece wrote this song after she and her children were accosted by a group of men said to be working for the owners of a mine during a strike in the ’30s. Which side are you on?
Ani DiFranco, “Which Side Are You On?”
Ani DiFranco made a few changes to this song in 2012. “Too many stories written; Out in black and white; Yeah come on people of privilege; It’s time to join the fight.”
Sarah Ogan Gunning, “I’m Going to Organize”
Kentucky bluegrass singer Sarah Ogan Gunning grew up in coal country, and she sings about the many times coal miners risked their jobs and lives to strike.
Anne Feeney, “Have You Been to Jail for Justice”
Anne Feeney wrote this song about disability rights activists who chained themselves to the doors of the Democratic National Headquarters in Atlanta. She says, “As the police began the laborious task of getting these fragile but determined protesters into vehicles to go to jail, I knew it was time to write a song in tribute to their courage.”
Adia Victoria, “Backwards Blues”
South Carolina singer-songwriter Adia Victoria wrote this in response to our last presidential election. That election was a defeat in many ways, but it’s also a call to arms for radical and progressive organizers.
Sam Gleaves, “Bread and Roses”
The song “Bread and Roses” originated in a speech by U.S. labor leader Rose Schneiderman in the early 20th century. The speech inspired a poem of the same name by James Oppenheim, which lead to the song by Judy Collins. Sam Gleaves brings his mountain harmonies to this song often associated with a textile strike in Lawrence, Massachusetts in 1912, now referred to as the “Bread and Roses strike.”
Grace Petrie, “Protest Singer Blues”
UK folk singer Grace Petrie represents a new generation of voices singing for change.
Snow Tha Product, “Despierta”
Mexican-American hip hop artist, Claudia Alexandra Feliciano, also known as Snow Tha Product, makes a call for us to wake up and resist bigotry and oppression through solidarity.
Sweet Honey in the Rock, “We Shall Not be Moved”
This spiritual and civil rights anthem sung by a legendary acapella group has inspired thousands to keep fighting for change.
Hello June, “Wish I Could Fly”
This indie-pop tune by the West Virginia band is a reminder that we can fly.
If you like these songs, you will love the playlist.