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5 Great Rallying Songs for Sunrise Movement Climate Strikes

Music permeates Maren's soul, whether performing (voice, piano, drum, guitar, clarinet) or acting as a crazily enthusiastic audience member.

Free Speech

Americans' right to peaceful protest is powerful.

Americans' right to peaceful protest is powerful.

What Sunrise Movement and Similar Groups Do

Young people worldwide, rightfully concerned about having a livable earth, are exerting leadership to save their future.

The Sunrise Movement is a group of under age 35 activists trying to save the earth from a mass extinction of people and many other species caused by human behavior.

They use education and political activisim to lead governments to adapt system changes which will rapidly do two things:

  1. Mitigate climate crisis
  2. Create millions of new jobs supporting the new healthy systems

Extinction Rebellion draws public attention to the climate crisis by organizing flash mobs to stop traffic and disrupt "business as usual" in high profile places.

Fridays4Future, 350.org, and the Sierra Club similarly call the public's attention to the climate emergency.

The participants in all these organizations exemplify the best of people worldwide who have stopped waiting for someone else to solve this huge crisis.

Short, Punchy Songs Speak Truth to Power

The chants and songs that work best are usually short and powerful. Songs with long lyrics don't work well.

However, songs with repeated or only slightly changed words through the verses work.

My recommendations for the Sunrise Movement and people who love the earth are:

1. The Voice of My Great Granddaughter

This powerful song comes from the Peace Poets and the Thrive Street Choir of San Francisco. It rejects the use of fossil fuels for our energy desires.

One easy verse is repeated over and over, which allows for passionate emphasis. The repetition allows for vocal harmonization or embellishment as the spirit moves participants.

A good practice for the song leader is to do a countdown with hand signals for the last three verses. This lets the singers know how long the song will go and keeps the energy high.

Lyrics:

The people gonna rise like the water;

Gonna calm this crisis down.

I hear the voice of my great granddaughter

sayin' "Keep it in the ground."

Voice of my Great Granddaughter

2. We Are Marching (Siyahamba) - Revised

We Are Marching is associated with Nelson Mandela and the successful fight to end apartheid in South Africa. Many Christian churches in the United States have embraced it and use both the Zulu lyrics and then use these English words: We are marching in the light of god.

The lyrics can easily be rewritten to reflect the Sunrise Movement's goal to quickly implement the Green New Deal in the USA.

Suggested lyrics:

Verse 1:

We are marching for the Green New Deal (repeat)

We are marching, marching, we are marching, ooo, we are marching for the Green New Deal. (repeat)

Verse 2:

Replace the word marching with "striking."

Replace the word marching with "voting."

In the video below, English words start at 0:32.

We Are Marching

3. If I Had a Hammer - Revised

This folk song of the 1960s cried out for social justice and peace. It is easily adaptable to striving for a Green New Deal.

Suggested lyrics:

If I had a hammer, I'd hammer in the morning; I'd hammer in the evening all over this land.
I'd hammer out danger.
I'd hammer out warning.
I'd hammer out a Green New Deal, my brothers and my sisters, all over this land.

If I had a bell, I'd ring it in the morning; I'd ring it in the evening all over this land.
I'd ring out danger.
I'd ring out warning.
I'd ring out a Green New Deal, my brothers and my sisters, all between my brothers and my sisters all over this land, ooh

If I had a song, I'd sing it in the morning; I'd sing it in the evening all over this land.
I'd sing out danger.
I'd sing out warning.
I'd sing out a Green New Deal, my brothers and my sisters, all over this land, ooh

Well I got a hammer and I got a bell, and I got a song to sing all over this land.

They're for Climate Justice,
and Renewable Energy.
And they're for Love between the People and the Planet all over this land.


If I Had a Hammer

4. We Shall Not Be Moved - Revised

Probably originating from American slave songs, this protest song is intended to have specific goals mentioned at the beginning of each verse.

The chorus is sung initially and between each verse.

Suggested lyrics:

CHORUS -

We shall not, we shall not be moved.

We shall not, we shall not be moved.

Just like a tree that's standing by the wa-a-ter: we shall not be moved.

Verse 1 - Oil shall not, oil shall not be moved. Oil shall not, oil shall not be moved. Just like a tree that's standing by the wa-a-ter: oil shall not be moved.

Sing CHORUS.

Verse 2 - Coal shall not, coal shall not be moved. Coal shall not, coal shall not be moved. Just like a tree that's standing by the wa-a-ter: coal shall not be moved.

Sing CHORUS.

Verse 3 - A Green New Deal is needed. We shall not be moved. A Green New Deal is needed. We shall not be moved. Just like a tree that's standing by the wa-a-ter: we shall not be moved.

Sing CHORUS.

We Shall Not Be Moved

5. Get Up, Stand Up - Riff

The riff that is part of the original Bob Marley song has the potential to be sung over and over.

Suggested lyrics:

Get up, stand up. Stand up for your right. (Repeat 2 more times.)

Get up, stand up. Don't give up the fight.

Get Up, Stand Up

Protest Songs Throughout History

Songs raise the spirit and express the message. Perhaps a climate song will join the ranks with other notable protest tunes such as We Shall Overcome, The MTA Song, and Blowin in the Wind.


© 2019 Maren Elizabeth Morgan

Comments

Maren Elizabeth Morgan (author) from Pennsylvania on May 10, 2020:

@Brian Leekley - great additional suggestions! Thank you!

Brian Leekley from Bainbridge Island, Washington, USA on May 09, 2020:

Very good suggestions, Maren. Some other song that could be adapted: Pete Seeger's "One Man's Hands"; Harry Dixon Loes's "This Little Light of Mine"; (folk)"John Brown's Body"/Julia Ward Howe's "Battle Hymn of the Republic"/Ralph Chaplin's "Solidarity Forever" [all the same tune]; (folk) "Do What the Spirit Says Do"; Malvina Reynolds's "It Isn't Nice"; Florence Reece's "Which Side Are You On?"—to mention a few.

Maren Elizabeth Morgan (author) from Pennsylvania on November 07, 2019:

Linda, thank you. Since I am a musician, I always have some sort of musical response to situations. I've attended a Sunrise rally in my town and there was singing, but more of an entertainment/motivation type than "sing along."

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on November 06, 2019:

What an interesting topic for an article! I love your ideas. You've described some great ways to raise awareness of the problems that we are creating for the Earth.