This post provides lyrics and two videos of the contemporary protest anthemn "Ella’s Song: We Who Believe In Freedom Cannot Rest Until It Comes". Information about Ella Baker, the woman who inspired this song is also included in this post along with information about Sweet Honey In The Rock, whose founding member Bernice Johnson Reagon composed this song.
The content of this post is presented for historical, cultural, and aesthetic purposes.
All copyrights remain with their owners.
Thanks to Ella Baker for her life's legacy. Thanks also to Bernice Johnson Reagon for composing this song and thanks to the vocal group Sweet Honey In The Rock for performing it. Additional thanks to all those who are quoted in this post, and to the publishers of these featured YouTube videos.
INFORMATION ABOUT THIS SONG
"Ella’s Song: We Who Believe In Freedom Cannot Rest Until It Comes" is a contemporary protest song that was composed by Bernice Johnson Reagon for the a capella African American heritage vocal group Sweet Honey In the Rock.
Here's a quote from Nan Dillard's review of "Ella Song" on http://ellabakercenter.org/blog/2013/12/ellas-song-we-who-believe-in-freedom-cannot-rest-until-it-comes :
["Ella’s Song: “We Who Believe in Freedom Cannot Rest Until it Comes”] "is an anthem, a meditation on the ultimate lesson of the freedom fight passed down generationally by Ms. Ella herself that is meant to be spoken boldly out loud or under one’s breath as the situation demands to empower both purpose and resolve."
INFORMATION ABOUT ELLA BAKER
Here's information about Ella Baker, the civil rights activist whose life work inspired this song:
"Ella Josephine Baker (December 13, 1903 – December 13, 1986) was an African-American civil rights and human rights activist. She was a largely behind-the-scenes organizer whose career spanned over five decades. She worked alongside some of the most famous civil rights leaders of the 20th century, including W. E. B. Du Bois, Thurgood Marshall, A. Philip Randolph, and Martin Luther King, Jr. She also mentored many emerging activists such as Diane Nash, Stokely Carmichael, Rosa Parks, and Bob Moses. She was a critic of professionalized, charismatic leadership and a promoter of grassroots organizing and radical democracy. She has been called "One of the most important African American leaders of the twentieth century and perhaps the most influential woman in the civil rights movement."
INFORMATION ABOUT SWEET HONEY IN THE ROCK
"Sweet Honey In The Rock® is a performance ensemble rooted in African American history and culture. The ensemble educates, entertains and empowers its audience and community through the dynamic vehicles of a cappella singing and American Sign Language interpretation for the Deaf and hearing impaired. Sweet Honey’s audience and community comes from diverse backgrounds and cultures throughout the United States and around the world, and includes people of all ages, economic/education/social backgrounds, political persuasions, religious affiliations, sexual preferences and differing abilities."
LYRICS: ELLA'S SONG
(Composed by Bernice Johnson Reagon)
We who believe in freedom cannot rest
We who believe in freedom cannot rest until it comes
Until the killing of Black men, Black mothers’ sons
Is as important as the killing of White men, White mothers’ sons
And that which touches we most is that I had a chance to work with people
Passing on to others that which was passed on to me
To me young people come first, they have the courage where we fail
And if I can shed some light as they carry us through the gale
The older I get the better I know that the secret of my going on
Is when the reins are in the hand of the young who dare to run against the storm
Not needing to clutch for power, not needing the light just to shine on me
I need to be just one in the number as we stand against tyranny
Struggling myself don’t mean a whole lot I come to realize
That teaching others to stand up and fight is the only way my struggle survive
I’m a woman who speaks in a voice and I must be heard
At time I can be quite difficult, I’ll bow to no man’s word
SHOWCASE YOUTUBE VIDEOS
Example #1: Sweet honey in the rock - Ella's Song
Geepereet, Uploaded on Dec 2, 2008
Words won't do so you'll have to listen...........
Here's a comment from this video's discussion thread:
Reverend Anita, November 2014
"This is the song and the words I needed to hear tonight, with the news that Michael Brown's killer would not be indicted. it can so easy to feel overcome with fatigue. We need each other to keep up the work in the face of each disappointment."
Example #2: Ella's Song [photo collage]
Shannon Kane, Published on Oct 3, 2013
Performed by Sweet Honey In The Rock
Thanks for visiting this Civil Rights Songs blog.
Viewer comments are welcome.