The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio

Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Opens Social Justice Exhibit

Exhibit features musical trailblazers speaking for the cause of equality, including Chuck D., Aretha Franklin, James Brown, Nina Simone, N.W.A, Tom Morello, Kendrick Lamar and others

The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame opens its social justice exhibit, “It’s Been Said All Along: Voices of Rage, Hope & Empowerment,” featuring special spoken word and live music performances on the plaza throughout the day.


Rock Hall Inductees Chuck Berry, Nat King Cole, Billie Holiday, Little Richard, Nina Simone, Sam Cooke, James Brown, and Aretha Franklin were trailblazers in speaking for the cause of dignity and equality. But it didn’t end there. In every generation, artists have elevated the conversation about race, equality, justice and peace – including Public Enemy, N.W.A., Tupac Shakur, Janelle Monáe, Rage Against the Machine, Kendrick Lamar and Beyoncé.


The Rock Hall’s new exhibit, “It’s Been Said All Along,” spotlights how musical artists have channeled the power of rock & roll to respond to racism all along. It showcases artists and musical moments that have rocked the world with expressions of rage, hope and empowerment, captured through the lenses of influential African American photographers Chuck Stewart, Bruce Talamon, Bob Douglas, and others.


Highlights of artifacts on display that reinforce the stories behind how artists have responded to inequality, include:

  • Public Enemy’s “Fight the Power” lyrics. The political anthem was revisited in 2020 to address the current landscape and recognize the recent protests and rallies.
  • N.W.A.’s jacket reflecting the relevance of their single “F*ck tha Police.”
  • Aretha Franklin’s Valentino dress worn during her first appearance at Radio City Music Hall, where she sang “Respect,” which became an anthem for the Civil Rights and Women’s Liberation Movements.
  • A jumpsuit worn by James Brown, the “Godfather of Soul” who brought motion to the Civil Rights Movement with style.
  • 1973 Wattstax film poster representing a cross-section of Black music from gospel to pop and was the largest gathering of African Americans during that time.
  • Handwritten lyrics from songwriter and rapper D Smoke, “Let Go” recorded hours before the killing of George Floyd, and recently performed live for the first time on the 2020 BET Awards.


Rock Hall EDU’s free online learning materials also include great lessons and activities spotlighting Aretha Franklin, music and the Civil Rights Movement, and more.


Chuck Berry Gallery 1
2000 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductee Nat King Cole
2000 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductee Billie Holiday
1986 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductee Little Richard
Nina Simone, Sinnerman 1965
1986 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductee Sam Cooke
1986 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductees James Brown
Aretha Franklin_Quote
2013 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductees Public Enemy
2016 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductees NWA
2017 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductee Tupac Shakur