We Shall Overcome

Pete Seeger
Pete Seeger

May 3, 1919
Pete Seeger is Born

You probably know that the Beatles, Supremes, Rolling Stones, Michael Jackson and Aerosmith, among many others, are in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. You may never have heard of Pete Seeger, but he is no less an important member. Pete Seeger is one of America’s greatest folk singers and composers. Folk songs are usually simple in melody and are often played on acoustic guitar. Can you name any folk singers of today? How about Jewel or Tracy Chapman?

Many folk singers write songs about current events, and Peter Seeger was no different. “We Shall Overcome,” which he co-wrote, was a song often sung during civil rights protests of the 1960s. “Turn! Turn! Turn!” a song popularized by the Byrds in 1965, draws its lyrics from the Bible’s Book of Ecclesiastes. It says that there is a time and a place for everything – even war. The song was released during the height of the Vietnam War. Its last line is “A time for peace, I swear it’s not too late.”

Pete Seeger was born in 1919 and has received many honors during his long career. He is still very active today. In 2000, he helped the Library celebrate its 200th birthday by performing during a concert. During the celebrations, he was named a Living Legend by the Library. A legend is someone who inspires others. Can you name any living legends?