Essay Sample on Music and Social Justice Movements

Published: 2023-09-25
Essay Sample on Music and Social Justice Movements
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Race Music Discrimination Social justice
Pages: 5
Wordcount: 1265 words
11 min read

Movements structured to demand social fairness became the substitute for the deplorable current situation developed in retort to constraints of development and economic opportunities, social disparity, racial discrimination, and segregation. Even though social injustice is viewed as a party-political agenda, various justice undertakings utilized music as a means of invitation and maintenance of individuals in the crusade based on broad areas. The incorporation of social fairness and music is profoundly intertwined with culture and autonomy structures of specific clusters currently seen as culturally constitutive. Hence, music played a significant purpose in various social justice activities in the American past. The purpose of this paper is to describe the use and the impact of Music on African-American protests.

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Significance of “The Beat”

“The beat” helped create the rhythm causing individuals to emotionally and physically respond to music. The changes in the world have caused changes in the beat, threatening the status quo. Individuals are seeking to better the beat and moving from the rock and roll to electronic dance music (Soundbreaking, n.d.). The emotional and physical responses are because of the exciting and irresistible nature of music.

The beat has gotten bigger, louder, and more exciting (Soundbreaking, n.d.). The engaging nature of the beat in current music makes protestors join in since the beat creates their adrenaline rise. The conservative decade in America during the 1950s promoted the suburban, white family life with gender roles fixed portrayed in television shows. However, issues of racial profiling and discrimination and conflict of any type were left at the dream world door of television. Extreme concerns on the categories of outside and insider, American and Un-American, abnormal and normal demonstrated themselves in all aspects of the country.

Music in Protests

Music used in encouraging individuals into activism has been present for a long time because instances that cause people to be unsatisfied with the current situation are sung in the music. The songs used in protest, just like social issues, human sentiments, and music styles have a vast range. They are developed to be share of a crusade for political or cultural changes and strengthen the undertaking by attracting individuals together and encouraging them to reflect or undertake in the change process.

The protest of unfairness is articulated melodically at the beginning of the 21st century by hip-hop. The two decades leading to 1990 experienced the advent of the hip-hop culture in the societies affiliated with the African-American individuals which took the longstanding music traditions of the African-Americans to a new trajectory (Library of Congress, n.d.). They created a new distinctive art form based on social protest using drumming, scratching, sampling, and spoken word poetry as the principal agents of change (Library of Congress, n.d.).

Additionally, the songs developed by rappers through records and performances spread information of the day-to-day lives of African Americans, discontents, and dreams outside their immediate neighborhood. The rappers become the vocal sound of discriminated, uptown African-American young adults, who have their lives tainted or sacked by the conventional media (Blanchard, 1999). Their songs can be used for political advocacy stemming from the African-American games in the form of resistance to schemes of slavery and subjugation (Blanchard, 1999). The commodification of rap disenfranchised it becoming a form of resistance. For instance, the withering of the political content associated with rap increased the infatuation of corporate America (Blanchard, 1999). The first songs of Ice Cube attacked racism, ice T singing about cop killers; the public enemy reaches out to people to challenge the power.

Nihilistically approaching criminal and violent activity, which forms the basis of the criticism on rap, has been defined as the outcome forms the social disparities that African-American communities face. The artful composition of music is filled with political commentary and heavy metaphor, which draws political movements together (Henwood, 2017). The broadcasting of songs on TV and playing it at massive concerts makes the protestors and fans interact and taking ownership of the song in a different manner (Henwood, 2017).

Over the years, the media has placed criticism on rap music from the hype of the rivalry in the West and East coast over the murders of Notorious B.I.G and Tupac Shakur without paying attention to the message of rap (Blanchard, 1999). Currently, rap music indicates the onset of the hip-hop culture of African Americans from African oral traditions. The purpose of rap music is to act as a voice for the underrepresented, with its popularity growing (Blanchard, 1999).

Reasons for Protests Using Music

The half part of the 20th century was associated with complex rules of segregation, which restricted venues and performances (Library of Congress, n.d.). The songs helped in pushing the cause of the movement and ensures extensive interactions as the protestors connect at the human level from their preferences. During the civil rights movements between 1954 to 1968 and its aftermath, the song styles and songs of African-American ere used to develop songs that unify individuals for the campaign (Library of Congress, n.d.). Ensembles and vocal artists sang Gospel, soul, and spiritual songs to display their feelings on race relations.

Role of Social Anthems for the African American Community

The social anthems have been present from the periods of slavery, helping African-Americans to preserve their oral traditions and develop a basis of protesting (Library of Congress, n.d.). In the Virgil of Matthew Shepard, who was a college student in Wyoming killed in 1998 an anti-gay crime, the civil rights-era anthem was “We Shall Overcome,” expressing the protesters stand on homophobia (Nicholls, n.d.).

The “#MeToo movement” created by Rosa Parks and Recy Taylor marked the movement to culminate the campaign against racial and sexual violence, which represented the experiences of African-American women (Railton, 2020). For the #BlackLivesMatter, #MeToo, and #Resist movements, music has helped to address political and social turmoil from the protests (Tribune News Service, 2019). In 2018, Childish Gambino debuted “This Is America,” detailing how the black lives have gotten commodified and made disposable all through the history of the United States (Tribune News Service, 2019). In the wake of these movements, the songs help to supplement the cause of the protests. It provides a representation of the challenges the African-Americans are currently facing.

Conclusively, social transformation influenced by music has been used extensively by African-Americans to protest against various forms of discrimination in the United States. “The beat” helped create the rhythm causing individuals to emotionally and physically respond to music. More so, music used in protests is created to be a portion of a crusade for political or cultural changes and strengthening the undertaking though drawing individuals together and encouraging them to reflect or take action. The purpose of rap music and hip-hop culture is to act as a voice for the underrepresented in the African-American communities in America. Ultimately, social anthems are used in various movements to represent unstable matters and magnified pressure points of sexual assault, racial violence, immigration policies, and LGBT rights.


Blanchard, B. (1999). The social significance of rap & hip-hop culture. Stanford University.

Henwood, B. (2017, May 22). The history of American protest music, from "Yankee Doodle" to Kendrick Lamar. Vox.

Library of Congress. (n.d.). African American song. The Library of Congress.

Nicholls, T. (n.d.). Music and social justice. Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy | An encyclopedia of philosophy articles written by professional philosophers.

Railton, B. (2020). Considering history: The #MeToo moment that helped start the civil rights movement. The Saturday Evening Post | Home of The Saturday Evening Post.

Soundbreaking. (n.d.). The beat throughout American popular music history | Soundbreaking | PBS LearningMedia [Video]. PBS LearningMedia.

Tribune News Service. (2019, June 12). From MeToo to Black Lives Matter, protest music is in the air. South China Morning Post.

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