Pete Seeger, 92, Ignites Occupy Wall Street Movement

 @cavanshays
on October 22 2011 3:14 PM

Pete Seeger, the 92-year-old folk music legend, joined the Occupy Wall Street protest in the Manhattan borough of New York on Friday.

The folk singer started his career in the 1940s, and he is a political, cultural and musical icon today.

On Friday night, Seeger, aided by two canes, led hundreds of Occupy Wall Street protesters down Broadway with the protesters singing Down by the Riverside, among other protest songs, marching almost 40 blocks. The demonstration went from Symphony Space to Columbus Circle.

He's a symbol of the peace movement, protester Larry Manzino, a retired research scientist from Piscataway, N.J., told The New York Times. He's a guy who never caved, a guy who had integrity, a guy who stood up and said no when he had to.

Commentators called the sight powerful and beautiful.  

News Anchor Lucy Kafanov (@LucyKafanov) tweeted, Wow. Pete Seeger made U.S. twitter trends list at #6. Of all the celebs to visit #OWS, who knew someone born in 1919 would light biggest spark.

Seeger led the pack, joined by grandson Tao Rodriguez Seeger, composer David Amram and bluesman Guy Davis, reported CBS News.

Seeger led the demonstrators with passion as they marched through the streets of Manhattan singing and chanting protest anthems.

He also played songs for the crowd like Ode to Joy on his banjo.

His joining the Occupy Wall Street movement should come as no surprise. The folk legend has always been an avid activist.

At the ripe age of 17, he joined the Youth Communist League. In 1941 he put out a recording of pioneer songs with anti-war undertones.

His song Dear Mr. President, which was in support of Roosevelt and the war effort to remove Hitler, is iconic. Many musicians today mimic this sort of artistic statement.

After that, he attacked Lyndon Johnson in a song about the Vietnam War.

Seeger is also an environmentalist. He co-founded the Hudson River Sloop Clearwater in 1966, which shed light on pollution in the Hudson River.

Seeger, who was born in Paterson, NY, is best known for the songs Where Have All the Flowers Gone?, If I Had a Hammer (The Hammer Song), and Turn, Turn, Turn!, which have been re-recorded many times. Pete Seeger was also a founding member of two hugely renowned folk groups, The Almanac Singers and The Weavers.

There is no other artist from the 20th century who has done more to preserve, broadcast, and re-distribute folk music than Pete Seeger, whose passion for politics, the environment and humanity have earned him both ardent fans and vocal enemies since he first began performing in the late '30s, quotes his biography at CMT.com. 

He spent much of the 1960s in the South marching for civil rights. He popularized the spiritual We Shall Overcome, the song that became known as the anthem of the movement. In the PBS American Masters episode Pete Seeger: The Power of Song, Seeger states he changed the lyric from We will overcome to the more poignant We shall overcome.

On Jan. 18, 2009, Seeger joined Bruce Springsteen and grandson Tao Rodríguez-Seeger to a rousing rendition of This Land Is Your Land for the finale of Barack Obama's Inaugural Concert in Washington, D.C. In quintessential Seeger and Springsteen fashion, extra verses, deleted from the original version of the song, were added to highlight circumstances of modern times. 

Inscribed on his banjo are the words: This machine surrounds hate and forces it to surrender.

In May 2009 he celebrated his 90th birthday with a concert at Madison Square Garden featuring Bruce Springsteen, Dave Matthews and Ben Harper.

Currently, 92-year-old Seeger is the fifth most popular trending topic on Twitter.

 

 

 

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