We Shan't Overcome: Peter Seeger, Racism and Castro

The populizer of We Shall Overcome was honored by a regime that banned his most famous song


Humberto, at the Babalu blog, makes an interesting point about Pete Seeger and his flirtation with Castro.

In 1999 famous peacenik Pete Seeger proudly visited the Stalinist dictator who brought the world closest to nuclear war of any person in history to eagerly accept an award “against racism” from the Stalinist/Apartheid regime that jailed and tortured the longest suffering black political prisoners in modern history. In 2007 this very regime booted the visiting black American jazz musician Youman Wilder.

His offense?

Straying from the Stalinist regime's official song-list and singing the famous Pete Seeger arrangement, We Shall Overcome!

This last fascinating datum courtesy of Henry Gomez in the inimitable Babalu Blog!)

In brief: the arranger and populizer of We Shall Overcome was honored to be honored with the highest cultural award by the regime that banned the singing of his most famous song!

There is a history of this with leftist musicians finding that protest songs were less welcome in Communist countries where protests are banned.

Paul Robeson singing Go Down Moses was far more controversial in the USSR where lines like "When Israel was in Egypt land, Let my people go!" had a whole different resonance with large numbers of Jews who wanted to leave for Israel.