Music to Mobilize…

In No Fascist USA! The John Brown Anti-Klan Committee and Lessons For Today, we explore how music is a critical piece of the fights against racism and fascism. Inspired by the Rock Against Racism/Two Tone movements in the United Kingdom, activists in the States also organized musical interventions to creeping fascism in the music scenes.

While writing this book, we kept inspired by a steady stream of rebel music from many different eras. Here are some our favorites that kept us going through the many manuscript revisions.

Gary Clark “This Land”

Gary Clark “This Land” will probably go down as the anthem of the fight against racism in the era of 45. “This Land,” recalls the work of the Republic of New Africa and others who fought for Black self-determination during the 1970s and 80s.

Elaine Brown “Until We’re Free”

Black Panther Elaine Brown was also an accomplished vocalist. “Until We’re Free” poignantly encapsulate much of the Panther politics that would influence many revolutionaries decades later. The founding of the John Brown Anti-Klan Committee was shaped in large part by the incarceration of Panthers and other revolutionaries thanks to COINTELPRO.

Sonic Youth “Youth Against Fascism”

Not known for writing political polemics, Sonic Youth turned up the volume against reactionaries in this 1992 classic. By 1992, most of the John Brown Anti-Klan Committee’s network had gone on to other political work. However, the spectre of nazi-skinheads still haunted many corners of the punk and counter-cultural scenes.

Special AKA “Racist Friend”

No musical movement has ever embraced the potential of cross-cultural solidarity more than Two-Tone and the Rock Against Racism projects in the United Kingdom. With the recent electoral victory of the Torries, songs like “Racist Friend” by The Special AKA might become the soundtrack of yet another fightback.

Poison Girls “Bully Boys”

Survival of the fittest

The enemy is fear

The bully boys are coming

Can it really happen here?

Common “Song For Assata”

The John Brown Anti-Klan Committee mobilized support for Assata Shakur after she escaped prison in 1979. Shakur’s life and legacy have inspired dozens (if not hundreds) of tribute songs over the years.

“Bella Ciao” 

Questa mattina mi sono svegliato…………………This morning I awakened
Bella Ciao Bella Ciao Bella Ciao Ciao Ciao……………….Good-bye beautiful
Questa mattina mi sono svegliato…………………This morning I awakened
Ed ho trovato l’invasor…………………………………..And I found the invader

O partigiano porta mi via……………………………Oh partisan carry me away
Bella Ciao Bella Ciao Bella Ciao Ciao Ciao……………….Good-bye beautiful
O partigiano porta mi via……………………………Oh partisan carry me away
Che me sento di morir’…………………………When I feel death approaching

E se io muoio da partigiano…………………………..And if I die as a partisan
Bella Ciao Bella Ciao Bella Ciao Ciao Ciao……………….Good-bye beautiful
E se io muoio da partigiano…………………………..And if I die as a partisan
Tu me devi seppellir’……………………………………..Then you must bury me

Heaven 17 “We Don’t Need No Fascist Groove Thing”

Anti-fascism you can dance to! Why should the punks and the hip-hop kids have all the fun anyhow?