Yesterday we lost Pete Seeger, one of the all-time great folk singers and activists. The LA Times calls Seeger “the conscience of America.”
A larger than life figure, there is no way one can write enough about Seeger. He dedicated himself to peace, civil rights, labor, and the environment. He sang folk music and songs and anthems of the Civil Rights Movement, including We Shall Overcome (1962), Where Have All the Flowers Gone (1962), If I Had a Hammer (1962), Solidarity Forever (1982), and We Shall Not Be Moved (1991) to name a few. He sang words filled with the kind of substance that never minces words, but provides listeners with hope.
We know he sang a lot at public schools. He loved to sing the song Abiyoyo to children. He supported environmental education programs through Hudson River Sloop Clearwater, Inc. a group to protect the wetlands and waterways of the Hudson River.
Surely through the songs Seeger sang and his activism, educators know their efforts to save public schools are on track. We have a friend in Seeger. Seeger’s message rings true when considering the following atrocities:
- Closing public schools—where the people of the community are supposed to have a voice
- Arbitrarily firing experienced teachers
- School segregation
- Commercialized chain for-profit charter schools
- Scripted narrow one-size-fits-all curriculum that destroys individualism
- Inappropriate laborious preschools
- Loss of school libraries
- The collection of private information concerning children
So with Pete Seeger’s folk songs and spirit, educators should take heart. The LA Times noted that someone once asked the always upbeat Seeger if he ever became discouraged. Seeger replied: “I say ‘the hell with it’ every night around 9:30 then get up the next morning. Besides, if you sing for children, you can’t really say there’s no hope.”