American folk singer and activist Pete Seeger (left) adopted and helped popularize "We Shall Overcome" by teaching the song at rallies and protests. Here he sings with activists in Greenwood, Miss., in 1963. Adger Cowans/Getty Images hide caption

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The NPR 100

The Inspiring Force Of 'We Shall Overcome'

It is not a marching song. It is not necessarily defiant. It is a promise.

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Kochiyama looks at a memorial for World War II Japanese-American internees at the Rohwer Relocation Center in Rohwer, Ark., in 2004. Mike Wintroath/AP hide caption

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Bob Moses works with Jennifer Augustine, Guitoscard Denize, Darius Collins and other students who are part of this Algebra Project classroom. It's one of several student cohorts across the country where students who've struggled with math get to college-level by the end of high school. Christopher Connelly/NPR hide caption

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Amiri Baraka leaves the polling place after voting in Newark, N.J., in 2010. Amiri's son, Ras Baraka, is currently running for mayor. Patti Sapone/Star Ledger/Corbis hide caption

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Mary Hamilton was found in contempt of court in Alabama, when she refused to answer questions after the prosecution addressed her only by her first name. The U.S. Supreme Court later ruled in her favor. AP hide caption

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Ruby and The Romantics' hit song "Our Day Will Come" wasn't necessarily political — but it resonated with listeners' feelings about the civil rights movement in 1963. Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images hide caption

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The Freedom Singers make several appearances in our mix of songs inspired by the civil rights movement — a collection that ranges from 1963 to the present day. Joe Alper hide caption

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Underlying the sweetness of Kyu Sakamoto's unexpected hit song "Sukiyaki" was a story of sadness and loss. Courtesy of the artist hide caption

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When played on the radio in 1963, songs like Big Joe Turner's "Shake, Rattle and Roll" were code to Birmingham youths, telling them to assemble. Jan Persson/Redferns hide caption

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A 17-year-old Civil Rights demonstrator is attacked by a police dog in Birmingham, Ala., on May 3, 1963. This image led the front page of the next day's New York Times. Bill Hudson/ASSOCIATED PRESS hide caption

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