8 Songs For Everyone Who Cares About Equal Rights


In the aftermath  of the Trayvon Martin verdict, many of us who care about equal rights are feeling very disillusioned, to say the least. We cheered Wendy Davis on through her marathon filibuster against the Texas abortion ban only to watch it be signed into law. And while it wasn’t too long ago that we were celebrating the Supreme Court's decision to strike down DOMA, we know it’s not actually dead yet.

For those of us who care about equality, in all of its forms, it can often feel like a frustrating yet exhilarating full time job. For a lot of us it literally is our life’s work as well as our passion. While we can celebrate how far we have come, we are constantly reminded of how long we have to go. For those of you still trying to keep the hope alive, whatever that may mean for you, here is a list of songs to ease your weary soul.

1. 'Same Love' by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis

While it’s obviously about acceptance of the LGBT community and particularly relevant in the wake of DOMA and Prop 8, Macklemore goes a step further in reminding us that hate, in all of its forms, is connected and structural, serving as a reminder that in order to counter any of it, we have to fight all of it.



It's the same hate that's caused wars from religion

Gender to skin color, complexion of your pigment

The same fight that led people to walk-outs and sit-ins

Human rights for everybody, there is no difference


2. 'One Day' by Matisyahu

Being an activist for equal rights can be exhausting, so let Mastiyahu remind you that one day it will all be worth it.

Sometimes in my tears I drown

But I never let it get me down

So when negativity surrounds

I know some day it'll all turn around because... 

All my life I've been waiting for

I've been praying for

For the people to say

That we don't wanna fight no more

There will be no more wars

And our children will play

One day 

3. 'Define Me' by Ryan Amador feat. Jo Lambert

This incredibly heartfelt song about the struggles of dealing with prejudice and homophobia, calls upon us to start a party free from judgment and full of love.

We’re starting this party right here

Where people will shake off fears

And mass tolerance is replaced with resistance

And everyone cheers

That they love a man

Or they love a woman

And no one will be judged for love

And I can’t be judged for who I am

4. 'Amendment' by Ani DiFranco

Perhaps Wendy Davis could’ve filled some time in her filibuster by singing this little pro-women, pro-choice ditty.

And if you don't like abortion

Don't have an abortion

And teach your children

How they can avoid them

But don't treat all women

Like they are your children

Compassion has many faces

Many names

And if men can kill and be decorated

Instead of blamed

Then a woman called upon to mother

Can choose to refrain

5. 'What's Going On?' All Star Tribute

Marvin Gaye had it right all along, but what is more fun than this totally 2000s all-star tribute featuring none other than Destiny’s Child, Limp Bizkit, and Ja Rule? If N’SYNC and The Backstreet Boys could come together in the height of their boy-band rivalry to make this tribute for AIDS awareness, maybe there is hope for world peace after all.

Father, father

We don't need to escalate

You see, war is not the answer

For only love can conquer hate

You know we've got to find a way

To bring some lovin' here today

Picket lines and picket signs

Don't punish me with brutality

Talk to me, so you can see

Oh, what's going on

6. 'A Change is Gonna Come' (Sam Cooke cover) by Zhi

The hope not only that change will come, but that we can play a tangible role in making that change become a reality, is what keeps most of us going at the end of the day. While the original version of this song is a Sam Cooke classic, I wanted to share this cover by a fellow LSE alum (who I don’t actually know, super creepy, you’re welcome Zhi).

There were times when I thought I couldn't last for long

But now I think I'm able to carry on

It's been a long, a long time coming

But I know a change gone come, oh yes it will

7. 'With God On Our Side' by Bob Dylan

Bob Dylan’s 1964 track that questions the morality of things done in the name of God remains ever relevant today.

But now we got weapons

Of the chemical dust

If fire them we're forced to

Then fire them we must

One push of the button

And a shot the world wide

And you never ask questions

When God's on your side

In a many dark hour

I've been thinkin' about this

That Jesus Christ

Was betrayed by a kiss

But I can't think for you

You'll have to decide

Whether Judas Iscariot

Had God on his side

8. 'Yes We Can'

Bear with me on this one. So it’s not technically a song, or at least it wasn’t until Will.I.Am turned it into a handy campaigning tool for Obama’s 2008 election. I know it’s nearly impossible to separate this from our current president, and the many disappointments we may have with him to date, but if you take it at face value it’s a promise of progress, change, and hope that we all share. When I listen to this now, the “we” for me is not the Obama administration, but all of us who are working towards equal rights and how together we can ultimately achieve the change that was promised to us. If for nothing else, I hope you can appreciate a reminder of the awesomely random celebrity cameos in this.

We know the battle ahead will be long

But always remember that no matter

What obstacles stand in our way

Nothing can stand in the way of the power

Of millions of voices calling for change

We have been told we cannot do this by a chorus of cynics

They will only grow louder and more dissonant

We've been asked to pause for a reality check

We've been warned against offering

The people of this nation false hope

But in the unlikely story that is America

There has never been anything false about hope 

What are your favorite equal rights anthems to get you through the day?