Protest Music: Songs and Free Speech

Protest music is the soundtrack behind the great historical events that shaped our country, from the American Revolution to the 2020 Presidential Election.

Music is one of our most powerful forms of free speech. History has shown that it is also one of the best ways to reach a mass audience.

Writers, performers, and artists have harnessed the power of music to spread political messages, advocate for causes, bolster hope in change, and to dream of a better world- the essence of the First Amendment. Music, especially protest music, is one of the many ways Americans can live their freedoms. 

The First Amendment protects the freedoms that allow free expression and the creation of protest music.

This exhibition explores the evolution of American protest songs and samples various styles, genres, and causes that have been advocated for and represented through music. Songs are listed in chronological order and a brief description accompanies each. 

Content warning: This exhibition contains explicit language, inflammatory pieces of art, adult content, and controversial politics. 

part one 1774-1911
part 2 1911 - 1947
Part 5: Protest music