My Country, 'Tis of Thee: How One Song Reveals the History of Civil Rights

by Claire Rudolf Murphy and Bryan Collier

A fascinating look at the history of the song “America” (“My Country... read more

A fascinating look at the history of the song “America” (“My Country ’Tis of Thee”) begins with its roots in England in the 1740s, as “God Save the King.” It was adapted for use in the American colonies as they sought independence, with new words written for the new cause. From those times on, the song has been a part of various struggles for equality and justice. Verses were penned in the fight against slavery and for the right of women and Native Americans to vote. Marian Anderson sang “America” at the Lincoln Memorial in 1939 after being denied the opportunity to sing at Constitution Hall because she was Black. Martin Luther King, Jr. referenced the song in his speech at the March on Washington in 1963. And when Barack Obama was elected president, Aretha Franklin sang it at his first inauguration in 2009. “Now it’s your turn. Write a new verse for a cause you believe in. Help freedom ring.” Ample notes and source material conclude this inspired volume. (Ages 8–12)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2015

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