Pete Seeger’s seven decades of social justice activism came to an end this week, but his spirit and songs live on forever. On his 94th birthday last May I wrote a tribute to Seeger
and highly recommended the book, Pete Seeger: In His Own Words
. Along with the 2007 documentary, Pete Seeger: The Power of Song
, it is a great starting point for those eager to learn more about one of the greatest Americans of the past century.
Pete Seeger is the only activist I can think of who remained active from the 1930’s to today. And despite nearly a decade of being blacklisted, of having his career wrecked by anti-communist hysteria, he never became bitter.
Seeger was among the great cultural figures of the 1940’s who lectured at the Tenderloin-based California Labor School. This incredible hub of arts and worker education was effectively closed down by the House Un-American Activities Committee and the IRS as part of the post-WW2 red scare.
If we can take only one message from Seeger’s life, it is his insistence that we never give up hope. Seeger saw problems not as insurmountable obstacles but as opportunities. That positive attitude kept him going strong into his 90’s, and is a model for all activists.