Examples – Protest Works of Art

Selected Aesthetic Protest Works of Art – Works that address issues of political and social justice


All My Sons (Arthur Miller)

Angels in America: Millennium Approaches (Tony Kushner)


Blues for Mr. Charlie (James Baldwin)


King Lear

Lysistrata (Aristophanes) and The Happiest Girl in the World (music by Offenbach;

lyrics by E. “Yip” Harburg, based upon Lysistrata)

Oedipus Rex


Our Town (Thornton Wilder, 1938)

Raisin in the Sun

Soldier’s Story

Harold Pinter (The Birthday Party, 1958; The Dumb Waiter, 1957; The Caretaker, 1960; The Homecoming, 1965; No Man’s Land, 1975; Betrayal, 1978; One for the Road, 1985; Mountain Language, 1988; Party Time, 1991; Ashes to Ashes, 1996; Press Conference, 2002)

Peace Mom, (Dario Fo, Italian playwright)


Inherit the Wind

To Kill a Mockingbird, 1962

Justice at Nuremberg

Twelve Angry Men

A Few Good Men


Fahrenheit 9/11

Angels in America

The Color Purple

The English Patient

In the Heat of the Night

The Lone Ranger

Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith





Sister Act

Brokeback Mountain

The Constant Gardener

Good Night, and Good Luck

Crash (Paul Haggis)

Daughters of the Dust

Syriana (Stephen Gaghan)

Munich (Steven Spielberg)

Spike Lee (When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts; 4 Little Girls; Do the Right Thing; Bamboozled; Malcolm X; Mo’ Better Blues)


Spirituals (See Caldwell text and YouTube History Detectives show.)



A Child of Our Time (Tippet)

Amazing Grace (Newton)

Ball of Confusion

Bangladesh (George Harrison)

Banned in the USA (2 Live Crew)

Biko (Peter Gabriel)

Blowing in the Wind (Bob Dylan)

Born Dead (Ice-T)

Born in the USA (Bruce Springsteen)

Bring the Boys Home (Freda Payne, 1971)

Eve of Destruction (PF Sloan, composer; Barry McGuire)

Fight the Power (Public Enemy)

Get Up, Stand Up (Bob Marley)

Give Peace A Chance (John Lennon)

If I Was President (Wyclef Jean, 2004)

(If You Love Your Uncle Sam)Bring ‘em Home (Pete Seeger)

Keep Your Head Up (Tupac Shakur)

Ohio (Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young re Kent State)

Hip Hop (Dead Prez)

I Am Woman (Helen Reddy)

Me Against The World (Tupac Shakur)

My City of Ruins (Bruce Springsteen)

John Walker’s Blues

Mass in Time of War (Franz Joseph Haydn)

Me and a Gun and Silent All These Years (Tori Amos)

Say It Loud, I’m Black and I’m Proud (James Brown)

Smells Like Teen Spirit (Nirvana)

Strange Fruit (Billie Holiday)

Suffrage Song (Julia Ward Howe)

Symphony No. 9 (Beethoven)

The Ballad of the Green Beret

The Message (Grandmaster Flash)

The Star Spangled Banner (Jimmie Hendricks at Woodstock)

Turn, Turn, Turn

This Land Is Your Land (Woody Guthrie)

War (written for the Temptations; 1970 – Edwin Starr)

We Shall Overcome

The music/lyrics of Bob Dylan (e.g. A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall; Blowin’ in the Wind; Like A Rolling Stone; Masters of War; Oxford Town; With God On Our Side)

The music/lyrics of E. Y. “Yip” Harburg (e.g. “Brother Can You Spare A Dime” – 1932; The Wizard of Oz – a Depression fantasy; Cabin in the Sky – “Happiness is Just a Thing Called Joe”; Bloomer Girl – re Women’s Suffrage Movement; Song of Russia; Finian’s Rainbow)

The music of Marvin Gaye (Mercy, Mercy Me; What’s Goin’ On?)

The music of Nina Simone (Backlash Blues; Four Women; Mississippi Goddam; Old Jim Crow; To Be Young, Gifted and Black)

The music of Rage Against the Machine (e.g. Bullet in the Head; Anger Is A Gift)

The music of Randy Newman (e.g. Louisiana 1927; Political Science; Song for the Dead)

Patriotic Songs used by protesters:  America the Beautiful; Ballad of the Green Beret;  Battle Hymn of the Republic; Dixie; Give Me Your Tired, Your Poor; God Bless America; God Bless the U.S..A.; I’m a Yankee Doodle Dandy; Stars and Stripes Forever; The Star Spangled Banner; This Land is Your Land; When Johnny Comes Marching Home Again; Yankee Doodle

The Top 20 Political Songs, as voted  for by New Statesman reders and members of the Political Studies Association (March 2010):

Woodie Guthrie —  This Land is your Land

The Special AKA —  Free Nelson Mandela

Bob Dylan — The Times they are a-Changin’

Billie Holiday — Strange Fruit

Claude de Lisle —  La Marseillaise


The AIDS Quilt

Vietnam Veterans Memorial

The Oklahoma City National Memorial

Eugene Delacroix – Liberty Leading the People

James Ensor – Entry of Christ into Brussels

Goya – The Disasters of War

Picasso – Guernica

Serrano – Piss Christ  —   http://www.artnet.com/artwork/424288434/piss-christ.html

Diego Rivera – Mexico Today and Tomorrow; Dream of a Sunday Afternoon in the Alameda

Susan Tibbles, artist & illustrator – Polarized, 2004

Chicano Park (San Diego)

Center for the Study of Political Graphics – http://www.politicalgraphics.org


The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater



Emmett  Till – An Arts and Social Protest Catalyst

The Sociological and Artistic Legacy


Eyes on the Prize


Coming of Age in Mississippi by Anne Moody, 1968; 1976

Soul on Ice by Eldridge Cleaver

The Greatest: My Own Story by Muhammad Ali, 1975

“On Being Black and Middle-Class”, an autobiographical essay by Shelby Steele in Commentary, January 1988.

In My Place, by Charlayne Hunter-Gault, 1992

From the Mississippi Delta – A Memoir by Endesha Ida Mae Holland


Getting Away With Murder: The True Story of the Emmett Till Case, by Chris Crowe, 2003

Historical Commentary

My Soul is Rested: The Story of the Civil Rights Movement in the Deep South, 1983.

African American Profiles in Courage by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Alan Steinberg, 2000

At the Hands of Persons Unknown: The Lynching of African American America by Phillip Dray, 2002.

The Lynching of Emmett Till: A Documentary Narrative by Christopher Metress, 2002


“Lost Note”, a short story in Seeds Beneath the Snow by Arthenia Bates, 1969

Wolf Whistle, a novel by Lewis Nordan

Your Blues Ain’t Like Mine, a novel by Bebe Moore Campbell, 1992

Mississippi Trial, 1955, a novel by Chris Crowe


Blues for Mr. Charlie by James Baldwin

The State of Mississippi … And the Face of Emmett Till, a play by David Barr III and Mamie Till Mobley,  drawn from a series of interviews by David Barr with Mamie Till Mobley

A Town Turns to Dust, a television drama by Rod Serling


Requiem for a Fourteen-Year Old, by Richard Davidson, 1955

A Cause for Justice, by Richard Davidson

For Emmett Till by Mary Parks

Mississippi by Martha Millet

Afterimages by Audre Lorde in Chosen Poems Old and New, 1982.

A Bronzeville Mother Loiters in Mississippi; Meanwhile, a Mississippi Mother Burns Bacon by Gwendolyn Brooks

The Last Quatrain of the Ballad of Emmett Till by Gwendolyn Brooks

The Lovesong of Emmett Till by Anthony Walton

The Money, Mississippi, Blues by Langston Hughes and Jobe Huntley

Can I Write of Flowers by Jeanne Miller, 2001


The Death of Emmett Till a song by Bob Dylan

Cave Bitch by Ice Cube

Through the Wire by Kanye West


Remember Emmett Till and Family by Zolo Agona Azania, 1986


Of Thee I Sing by David Driskell, 1968


King and Companion by Ed Dwight, 1976


Complete Photo Story of Till Murder Case by Ernest C. Withers

Comic Strip

Boondocks – Emmett Till’s Advice to Kobe Bryant, by Aaron McGruder


  • A. The Programmatic Response –
  • Nurturing Young Black Males by Ronald B.Mincy
  • Rites of Passage
  • Morehouse College
  • The Louis Armstrong Manhood Development Program – New Orleans
  • The Warrior Method by Raymond Winbush
  • B. The Indirect Aesthetic Response – “Make Them Hear You” from Ragtime by Stephen Flaherty & Lynn Ahrens



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: