Synopsis by Ronnie D. Lankford, Jr.
We Shall Overcome tells the story of the song that became a Civil Rights anthem. In the 19th century, many African-Americans sang "I Shall Overcome," a spiritual that had been sung by slaves. By 1945, a group of striking tobacco workers began to sing "We Shall Overcome," marking the first time the song was used in a social protest. In the mid-'40s, workers at the integrated Highlander Folk School in New Market, TN, carried the song to dozens of strike sites. Folksinger Guy Carawan traveled throughout the South for several years, at great risk to himself, spreading the song. By the late '50s and early '60s, the song became a rallying call at sit-ins and marches. The Freedom Singers brought the song to Northern colleges and Joan Baez sang it during the March on Washington in 1963. Later, the song also became central to the women's and peace movements. Narrated by Harry Belafonte, We Shall Overcome includes interviews with Pete Seeger, Peter Yarrow, and Bishop Desmond Tutu.