Symbiosis International University Symbiosis School for Liberal Arts

Music and the Struggle for Civil Rights

 Brief Overview 

This course focuses on the role of music in the struggle to secure equal citizenship for African Americans both politically and culturally. Importance is also given to the ways this struggle has intersected with the related struggles of other aggrieved communities in America, such as other ethnic minorities, sexual minorities and women, as well as to their diasporic and transnational connections. In addition to music, other artistic traditions such as literature, dance, theater and folk arts will be considered. Students will be encouraged to struggle productively in theorizing the possibilities and limitations that music offers for resisting social inequalities and generally “speaking truth to power.” Musical repertory includes slave songs, spirituals, blues, jazz, gospel, rock and roll, concert music, hip-hop, among others.

 Course Objectives 

This course will enable students to:

  • identify the musical characteristics associated with various styles of music used in the civil rights movement;
  • situate those styles within their cultural, social and political contexts;
  • summarize debate on the meaning and significance of music in the context of civil rights;
  • intervene in these debates by forwarding a critical perspective of their own.