Songs and Poems

Resource Type:

Reading Level:

    • Battle of Blair Mountain

    • Song. By David Rovics. 2003.
      Ballad about the West Virginia Coal Mine War of 1920-1921.

    • Resource Types: Songs and Poems | Themes: Art & Music, Labor, Organizing | Reading Levels: Grades 6-8, High School
    • Bread and Roses

    • Song. Reprinted from Labor Notes 2007.
      Links issues of economic security and quality of life, also addresses the role of women in the struggle for justice.

    • Resource Types: Songs and Poems | Time Periods: World War I: 1910 - 1919, 20th Century | Themes: Art & Music, Labor, Women's History | Reading Levels: Grades 3-5, Grades 6-8, High School
    • Chávez Ravine: A Record by Ry Cooder

    • Songs. By Ry Cooder. 2005. 70 min.
      The story of the Chicano community bulldozed to pave the way for the Dodger Stadium in Santa Monica, told through bilingual songs.

    • Resource Types: Songs and Poems, Spanish/Bilingual | Time Periods: Cold War: 1945 - 1960, 20th Century | Themes: Art & Music, Latino, Organizing, Social Class, Sports | Reading Levels: High School
    • E.Y. "Yip" Harburg: "Brother Can You Spare a Dime"

    • Film clip. Voices of a People’s History.
      E.Y. “Yip” Harburg’s “Brother Can You Spare a Dime” (1932) is performed by Allison Moorer.

    • Resource Types: Films, Songs and Poems | Time Periods: Prosperity, Depression, & World War II: 1920 - 1944, 20th Century | Themes: Art & Music, Economics | Reading Levels: Grades 6-8, High School
    • Elegy for Peter Norman

    • Poem. By Josh Healey. From Hammertime. 2008.
      Poem in text and audio about Peter Norman, the white athlete in the iconic photo of the ’68 Olympics.

    • Resource Types: Songs and Poems | Time Periods: People’s Movement: 1961 - 1974, 20th Century | Themes: Organizing, Sports | Reading Levels: Grades 6-8, High School
    • Have You Been to Jail for Justice?

    • Song. By Anne Feeney.
      A classic American protest song sung by Peter, Paul & Mary.

    • Resource Types: Songs and Poems | Themes: Art & Music, Organizing |
    • Hills of Tennessee

    • Song. By David Rovics. 2005.
      Eye-opening song that tells of the perils of mountain top removal.

    • Resource Types: Songs and Poems | Themes: Art & Music, Environment & Food, Labor | Reading Levels: Grades 6-8, High School
    • Langston Hughes: "Montage of a Dream Deferred"

    • Film clip. Voices of a People’s History.
      Dramatic reading of Langston Hughes’ “Montage of a Dream Deferred” (1951) by Danny Glover.

    • Resource Types: Films, Songs and Poems | Time Periods: Cold War: 1945 - 1960, 20th Century | Themes: African American | Reading Levels: Grades 6-8, High School
    • Occupy Wall Street - Song by David Rovics

    • Song. By David Rovics. 2011.
      A ballad of the Occupy Movement with a high energy beat.

    • Resource Types: Songs and Poems | Time Periods: 2001 - Present, 21st Century | Themes: Art & Music | Reading Levels: Adult, Grades 6-8, High School
    • Solidarity Forever

    • Song. By Ralph Chaplin. 1915.
      One of the most popular labor songs.

    • Resource Types: Songs and Poems | Themes: Art & Music, Labor, Organizing |
    • Something in the Rain

    • Song. By Tish Hinojosa. 1992.
      A song about a boy’s little sister who was poisoned by pesticides.

    • Resource Types: Songs and Poems | Themes: Environment & Food, Labor |
    • Song for Hugh Thompson

    • Song. By David Rovics.
      Ballad about Hugh Thompson who tried to defend the people of My Lai, Vietnam.

    • Resource Types: Songs and Poems | Time Periods: 20th Century | Themes: Art & Music, Wars & Related Anti-War Movements | Reading Levels: High School
    • This Land is Your Land

    • Song. By Woodie Guthrie. Recorded in 1940.
      Classic folk song written as a response to Irving Berlin’s “God Bless America.”

    • Resource Types: Songs and Poems | Themes: Organizing |
    • Union Maid

    • Song. By Woody Guthrie. 1940.
      A union song written by Woody Guthrie in response to a request for a union song from a female point of view.

    • Resource Types: Songs and Poems | Themes: Art & Music, Labor, Organizing |
    • Union Makes Us Strong

    • Song. By David Rovics. 2010.
      The benefits of a union told through historic examples in a ballad.

    • Resource Types: Songs and Poems | Themes: Art & Music, Labor, Organizing | Reading Levels: Grades 3-5, Grades 6-8, High School
    • Union Songs

    • Website. Developed by Mark Gregory.
      Over 700 union songs in an easy to search and regularly updated online collection with lyrics and audio.

    • Resource Types: Songs and Poems, Websites | Themes: Art & Music, Labor, Organizing |
    • The United Fruit Company

    • Poem. By Pablo Neruda.

    • Resource Types: Songs and Poems, Spanish/Bilingual | Themes: Latino, US Foreign Policy | Reading Levels: High School
    • When the Hunger Was Upon Us

    • Poem. By Nigel Gray.
      Poem about the causes and impact of the Irish Potato Famine.

    • Resource Types: Songs and Poems | Time Periods: Early 19th Century: 1800 - 1849, 19th Century | Themes: Environment & Food, Social Class, World History/Global Studies |
    • Which Side Are You On - Book Cover
    • Which Side Are You On?: The Story of A Song

    • Book – Non-fiction. By George Ella Lyon. Artwork by Christopher Cardinale. 2011. 40 pages.
      This children’s book tells the story of a classic union song written in 1931 and the harsh conditions under which it was written.

    • Resource Types: Books: Non-Fiction, Picture Books, Songs and Poems | Time Periods: 20th Century | Themes: Art & Music, Labor, Organizing, Social Class | Reading Levels: Grades 3-5, Grades Pre-K-2
    • "Workers of the World, Awaken!" by Joe Hill

    • Song. By Joe Hill. 1910.
      A classic labor song, reaching out to workers to around the world.

    • Resource Types: Songs and Poems | Time Periods: World War I: 1910 - 1919, 20th Century | Themes: Labor, Organizing |
    • The World Turned Upside Down

    • Song. By Leon Rosselson.
      The story of the 1649 revolt of the dispossessed in England who fought against the vested interest of the propertied. A vision of society that is cooperative and in harmony with the earth.

    • Resource Types: Songs and Poems | Themes: Art & Music, Labor, Organizing |