Philip Nel > Courses > American Studies 201: Introduction to American Studies (Spring 1998) > Music and Race in Twentieth-Century America > "We Shall Overcome"

We Shall Overcome

 
Lyrics derived from Charles Tindley's gospel song "I'll Overcome Some Day" (1900), and opening and closing melody from the 19th-century spiritual "No More Auction Block for Me" (a song that dates to before the Civil War). According to Professor Donnell King of Pellissippi State Technical Community College (in Knoxville, Tenn.), "We Shall Overcome" was adapted from these gospel songs by "Guy Carawan, Candy Carawan, and a couple of other people associated with the Highlander Research and Education Center, currently located near Knoxville, Tennessee. I have in my possession copies of the lyrics that include a brief history of the song, and a notation that royalties from the song go to support the Highlander Center."
 

1.

We shall overcome
We shall overcome
We shall overcome some day

CHORUS:

Oh, deep in my heart
I do believe
We shall overcome some day

2.

We'll walk hand in hand
We'll walk hand in hand
We'll walk hand in hand some day
CHORUS
 

3.

We shall all be free
We shall all be free
We shall all be free some day
CHORUS
 

4.

We are not afraid
We are not afraid
We are not afraid some day
CHORUS
 

5.

We are not alone
We are not alone
We are not alone some day
CHORUS
 

6.

The whole wide world around
The whole wide world around
The whole wide world around some day
CHORUS
 

7.

We shall overcome
We shall overcome
We shall overcome some day
CHORUS

SOURCES:

Eileen Southern, The Music of Black Americans: A History, Second Edition (Norton, 1971): 546-47, 159-60.
The International Lyrics Server. <http://www.lyrics.ch/query/normal?artist=&album=&song=We+Shall+Overcome>. March 1998.
Donnell King, email message, 29 Nov. 1999.

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