Countless numbers of us grew up singing songs written or co-written by Pete Seeger. “If I Had A Hammer”, “Where Have All The Flowers Gone”, “Turn, Turn, Turn” and so many others that he made popular such as “We Shall Overcome”. He said he just changed one word – he changed ‘will’ to ‘shall’ and it became the anthem of generations fighting for their civil rights.
Seeger is famous, of course, for making “We Shall Overcome” a civil and human rights anthem. The story of where he found that song is told below by historian Christopher Phelps. It is excerpted, by permission, from Christopher Phelps, "Lefts Old and New: Sixties Radicalism, Now and Then," in A New Insurgency: The Port Huron Statement and Its Times, eds. Howard Brick and Gregory Parker (Ann Arbor, Michigan: University of Michigan Press, forthcoming).
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