“We Shall Overcome” by Pete Seeger was said to be one of the most powerful songs of the 20th century. The 20th century was a very challenging time with a lot going on all throughout the world. Within the 20th century, there were two, world wars, the Great Depression, the Holocaust, the Cold War, and many other tragic events going on globally. This was an extremely tough time to live not only in America but throughout the entire world. Many people were going through the worst of the worst, not having any money, starving, living without a home, losing their family members in a blink of an eye, etc. It was very difficult for many individuals to even stay alive during these times. “We Shall Overcome” was published by Pete Seeger in 1947 which was within the 20th century. The song was and still is known as “the key anthem of the civil rights movement and the marching song in battles for freedom around the world” throughout the 20th and 21st century(Winkler 5). Pete Seeger is an American singer-songwriter who has accomplished a lot throughout his career. Seeger has received three musical Grammy Awards and a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, among various other honors during his lifetime(A&E Networks 2). Pete Seeger is extremely well-known for his contributions to American protest songs, folk music, etc. Born in New York City in 1919, Pete Seeger was born into the world from a family who wasn’t foreign to music. Everyone in his family had some kind of experience within the music industry. Both of his parents taught music for their professional careers, and his only two siblings were both musical performers for a living(A Networks 3). Pete Seeger received an early education at a boarding school in Connecticut which later lead him on to get a scholarship to Harvard University. Two years into attending Harvard University, Seeger failed an exam and lost his entire scholarship and dropping out of college. Dropping out of college early inspired him to hitchhike and travel around to country. During this time, Seeger focused on writing music. He eventually organized a folk band called the Almanac Singers and released a few albums with them(A Networks 5). Seeger became very active in politics and civil right movements which had later helped him become a famous civil rights activist, American singer-songwriter, folk artist, and publishing songs like “We Shall Overcome.” “We Shall Overcome” is a song with short and simple lyrics, but it has had an incredible impact on the world, especially during the Civil Rights Movement. Lyrics like “Oh, deep in my heart, I do believe, we shall overcome, someday,” has helped inspire thousands of people to keep fighting and not give up because they will be able to get through whatever they were going through at that time. The lyrics of “We Shall Overcome” were written by Pete Seeger to help promote peace and overcome all difficulties the whole world was going through at that time. The lyrics gave people that were struggling courage and hope that things will get better. Lyrics like “We’ll walk hand in hand,” and “We shall live in peace,” made people all over the world feel fearlessness and gave individuals determination to get through whatever they are going through. The song’s last lyric says “We are not afraid today,” and it ends the song to promote bravery to all people who were afraid of whatever they thought was going to happen to them or their family. The song’s lyrics in all were so powerful that it brought courage and comfort to people who knew that they could die any second due to the tough times and sufferings they were inhabiting. The song’s reign has been around forever, even to as early as 1900. Pete Seeger did not fully create the song all by himself. Pete Seeger was inspired by the song “We Will Overcome,” sung by Zilphia Horton which was inspired by “I’ll Overcome Someday,” sung by Charles Albert Tindley(Beviglia 2). Before “We Shall Overcome” was published by Pete Seeger, “We Will Overcome” was a popular civil rights song. The first political use of “We Will Overcome” was in 1945 when a group of tobacco workers wanted a raise from 45 cents(Adams 3). In 1947, Pete Seeger heard “We Will Overcome” for the first time from Zilphia Horton. Zilphia Horton was an American musician, Civil Rights activist, and folk singer. Zilphia Horton sang “We Will Overcome” to Pete Seeger for the first time in New York City where she was raising money for Highlander Folk Center. Highlander Folk Center was where blacks and whites would have meetings about labor issues. Zilphia Horton was Highlander’s music director(Adams 5). The workers would sing the song while working in the worst conditions. Pete Seeger was inspired by Zilphia Horton to sing “We Shall Overcome.” Seeger added to the song by giving it rhythm with the banjo and added 2 new verses. Pete Seeger said in an interview, “She had a beautiful alto voice and sang it with no rhythm, I gave it kind of ump-chinka, ump-chinka, ump-chinka, ump-chinka, ump-chinka, ump. It was medium slow as I sang it, but the banjo kept a steady rhythm going.” (qtd. In Adams 8) Pete Seeger is known for changing the “will” to “shall.” Since Pete Seeger has released “We Shall Overcome,” multiple covers have been sung of the song. Artists like Bruce Springsteen, Joan Baez, Roger Waters, Mahalia Jackson, and many more American artists have covered Pete Seeger’s version of “We Shall Overcome,” (Rolling Stone 1).The reign of “We Shall Overcome” didn’t just spread throughout America during this time but actually throughout the world in places like North Korea, South Africa, Beirut, Tiananmen Square, etc (Adams 3). At the time Pete Seeger published the song, society was very diverse. Its lyrics were spread throughout the world and was sung by all different types of groups. “We Shall Overcome” helped people all over the world get them through tragic and tough times. “Growing out of slavery, adopted in black churches at the turn of the 20th century, picked up by laborers striking for better working conditions and then by civil-rights marchers, throughout its long history “We Shall Overcome” has helped draw together people fighting for a better life,” (Winkler 4). Activists would sing “We Shall Overcome” during the toughest times of their lives whenever and wherever. People living during these times would still sing “We Shall Overcome” while they were suffering and at there all time low. Even while walking through clouds of tear gas and under rows of police barons, the song “We Shall Overcome” was able to give people confidence that they will overcome their struggles and difficult situations. Even Martin Luther King said, “Sometimes we’ve had tears in our eyes when we joined together to sing it, but we still decided to sing it.” (Beviglia 1).Overall, “We Shall Overcome” was and will always be one of the most well-known songs of the civil rights movement. The legacy of “We Shall Overcome” is still being lived out today. The song has promoted change and peace throughout the entire world. Pete Seeger sang “We Shall Overcome” for social justice, civil rights, and people struggling to find peace and it did just that. Because of Seeger’s song, he will always be known as one of the most famous American civil rights activists and “We Shall Overcome” will always be known as the most popular American protest songs ever to exist. Although “We Shall Overcome” is a simple song, it withholds a very powerful and meaningful message that has helped people overcome some of the toughest times they’ve encountered in their lives. Pete Seeger’s “We Shall Overcome” has proved successful that even a simple song can provoke change even within the toughest and most difficult of times.