Fight the Power: Music as a Social Force
Music is a powerful tool for social change.
The story of rock & roll overlaps with some of the most turbulent times in U.S. history. In the 1960s, for example, Americans debated the Cold War, civil rights, women's rights, and the Vietnam War. Musicians entered these debates by spreading messages of revolution, protest, and empowerment through musical performances in styles as diverse as folk, rock, and soul.
In "Fight the Power," students will think critically about how rock & roll musicians in the 1960s and early 1970s challenged audiences to consider alternatives and make changes in their communities. Students will listen to and view performances by legendary artists as they are engaged in identifying social commentary in lyrics, performance styles, and historical images.
Related content areas: Language arts, social studies, fine arts / music
Level: grades 7–12
Days offered: Tuesday–Friday (October to June)
Times offered: 10:00am or 11:30am
Duration: 60 minutes
Capacity: Up to 150 students per session
Available supplemental materials: See below!
An activity adaptable for students in grades 7-12.
This activity asks students to consider issues important to them and write their own protest songs, just as musicians of the 1960s expressed opinions on social issues including the Cold War, the Vietnam War, the Civil Rights Movement, and the Women's Liberation Movement.
A glossary of terms related to this class.
Terms defined: Civil rights, Cold War, Counterculture, Empowerment, Military draft, Musical style, Protest, Psychedelic, Racial segregation, Revolution, Society, Symbolism, Vietnam War
Read more about the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductees covered in this class!