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Oh Freedom! Songs of the Civil Rights Movement

A Road Scholar Program by Chris Vallillo

crowd protesting with signs
Martin Luther King Jr. and civil rights supporters August 1963

The Civil Rights Movement has been described as one of the greatest singing movements that this country has experienced.  From “We Shall Overcome” to “This Little Light of Mine,” music played a vital role in as an inspirational rallying point and as a way to spread the message of equality and justice.

From the Freedom Riders to the jails of Montgomery Alabama and Parchman Prison all the way to Washington, DC, old and new songs of the era spoke of the yearning for equal rights: the struggle and the determination to win freedom.  Music engaged and energized the movement locally and nationally, becoming the backbone of the nonviolent civil disobedience movement led by Dr King and others.

In a show created to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the civil rights movement, award winning Illinois folksinger Chris Vallillo performs pivotal songs from the music that inspired and sustained this landmark movement.  Intermixed with the music, Vallillo presents first-hand accounts of the historic struggle and discusses the impact of music to one of our nation’s most important social causes.

The show is performed on multiple instruments (acoustic and electric guitars, dobro, steel guitar and Mandolin plus vocals) and includes historically accurate first-person accounts of the music and how it impacted the Civil Rights Movement.

This event is Free and Open to the public. For more information, please contact Leticia Goluba at

Harvard Diggins Library COVID-19 Policy

Masks are welcome, and seating is slightly distanced, but not socially distanced. Learn more about Chris Vallillo, this program, and how to book it.