Civil Rights Era Protest Songs

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  • Martin Luther King Jr.
  • Sam Cooke
  • Nina Simone
  • Otis Redding
  • Aretha Franklin
  • James Brown
  • Marvin Gaye
  • Gil Scott Heron
  • John Coltrane
  • The Staple Singers
  • Grant Green
  • Billie Holiday
  • Bob Dylan

Sam Cooke – "A Change Is Gonna Come" (1964)

One of the rare musical artists who was equally adept in the pop, political and religious genres, Sam Cooke wasn't afraid to throw his hat into the political arena. The singer's 1964 single "A Change Is Gonna Come," inspired by Bob Dylan's "Blowin in the Wind," was drafted in May of 1963 after Cooke spoke with participants of a sit-in demonstration in Durham, North Carolina.

(Photo: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

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