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Black Lives Matter Protest in Hollywood - via Getty Images
Photo by David McNew / via Getty Images

5 Powerful Songs to Blast at Your Next #BlackLivesMatter Protest

I think it’s safe to say that it’s been a really long couple of weeks. What’s incredible, though, is the radical amount of change that has taken place so quickly as a direct result of the George Floyd protests:

  • Minneapolis committed to dismantling their police force, pledging a “transformative new model in public safety”
  • New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio committed to redirecting a portion of NYPD funding to youth and social services
  • And of course, finally, justice was served; the police officers who killed George Floyd were charged with second-degree murder and aiding and abetting murder

It’s easy to get worn out when you’re pushing to be a change agent, but remember that this is just the start. Change is only possible with sustained, continuous effort. It would be a miss to stop after a few quick wins – the work is only beginning.

Sound like a lot? Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered. After all, there’s nothing like a good theme song in the background when you’re advocating for social justice. Here are five powerful songs to get you going at your next #BlackLivesMatter protest.

1. Mr. Officer – Tee Grizzley (feat. Queen Naija and Members of the Detroit Youth Choir

This song gave me chills the first time I heard it. The anthem directly addresses the George Floyd incident and the impact it has had on black communities. Frank lyrics and ambient vocals blend to form a melodious reminder of why we need to continue pushing forward.

2. Otherside of America – Meek Mill

“What do you have to lose? You’re living in poverty, your schools are no good, you have no jobs, 58% of your youth is unemployed. What the hell do you have to lose?” If Trump’s motivational speech (read: sarcasm) at the start of this song isn’t enough to galvanize you, I don’t know what is.

3. Don’t Shoot – The Game (feat. Rick Ross, Fabolous, Diddy, 2 Chainz, Wale, DJ Khaled, Swizz Beatz, Yo Gotti, Currensy, Problem, King Pharaoh, TGT)

If you listen to the lyrics, you’d think they were written just a few days ago, with their references to excessive force, protests and looting. Truth be told, this song was released in 2014. The fact that its prose is as pertinent now as it was six years ago is telling evidence that things have gone unchanged for far too long.

4. Blk Girl Soldier – Jamila Woods

This list wouldn’t be complete without a special callout to black women, and Jamila Woods’ Blk Girl Soldier is just that. Her song began taking root after she read about Boko Haram kidnapping girls in Nigeria, and about Rekia Boyd, a young black woman who was shot by an off-duty detective in Chicago. Her song juxtaposes the struggles of black women with a long list of freedom fighters like Rosa Parks and Ella Baker, ending with a powerful rally for black women to keep fighting.

5. A Change is Gonna Come – Same Cooke

Cooke released this song back in the 1960s to convey the struggles of the Civil Rights Movement to end racial discrimination, segregation, and disenfranchisement. I wonder if Cooke thought his song would continue carrying its message more than half a century later. In any case, it’s a hopeful song, and we could all do with a bit of hope right about now. 

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