We attended the 50th Anniversary March on Washington commemorating Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have A Dream” speech, and the ongoing movement for equality and justice it helped propel. From the time we got on the metro, we were meeting strangers and the prevailing conversation all day was, “Where were you 50 years ago?”
Marcy attended the 1963 March with her parents, taking a bus from Detroit as a young child. Her parents were civil rights activists and instilled that value in Marcy. Cathy was in Baltimore, growing up in a less than politically active family, observing on TV. As you can see, she OVERCAME that and met Myles Horton, founder of the Highlander Center in 1977 at a workshop in Regina, Saskatchewan.
Highlander is where the gospel song, “I’ll Overcome Someday” was being sung by tobacco workers as “We Shall Overcome”. Highlander, a “folk school” where union and civil rights organizers met to help strategize forward motion, is where Rosa Parks attended workshops prior to her unwillingness to move to the back of the bus. Highlander’s philosophy valued the cultural assets that were the glue to social justice movements. Myles’ wife, Zilphia Horton, learned “We Shall Overcome” and continued singing it. Guy Carawan had joined Highlander as an organizer and singer in the movement. Guy taught the song to Pete Seeger who taught the song to Joan Baez and as they all sang the song, the world soon knew it.
We have made many trips to Highlander for workshops, cultural events and to visit friends and mentors Guy & Candie Carawan. Their organizing and cultural work in Appalachia, The Sea Islands and throughout the Civil Rights movements are inspiring, and while they get less credit than they should for their efforts. They have authored many books and made many CDs of music.
This is a SHORT version, and we hope you’ll look up more info on your own. This song will be used as long as anyone is working for social justice. The royalties from the song have funded the WE SHALL OVERCOME FUND http://highlandercenter.org/programs/we-shall-overcome-fund/
The fund was “Created to nurture grassroots efforts within African American communities to use art and activism against injustice, the We Shall Overcome Fund supports organizing in the South that is at the nexus of culture and social change.”