In the wake of nationwide heartache following the news of George Floyd's death, there is a growing urgency to support the Black Lives Matter cause. Generations of soul artists have contributed to the movement through anthemic songs of protest and statement albums that have begun and furthered the conversations addressing racism, violence and disillusionment.
In this ongoing series, we highlight the songs of the Black Lives Matter movement that launched and empowered people's pleas for a brighter future. Check back in weekly to listen and learn about the songs that have unified people throughout history to stand up for racial equality.
Aretha Franklin, "Respect"
Franklin's anthemic cover of Otis Redding's 1965 "Respect" became the emblem of the civil rights movement, a fiery force in the feminist movement and another unstoppable No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100. The Civil Rights Movement was burning and Franklin's rapidfire vocal riffs scorched "R-e-s-p-e-c-t" into everyone's minds.
ON THE SONG'S INSPIRATION:
In her 1999 autobiography, Franklin recalled on how she intended "Respect" to connect with anyone who felt belittled or unappreciated.
"It [reflected] the need of a nation, the need of the average man and woman in the street, the businessman, the mother, the fireman, the teacher — everyone wanted respect," she said. "It was also one of the battle cries of the civil rights movement. The song took on monumental significance."
KEY LYRIC: "R-E-S-P-E-C-T, find out what it means to me/ R-E-S-P-E-C-T, take care, TCB, oh"
There are many ways people can support the movement against police violence and provide relief to the communities who have been impacted by police racism. Help the family of George Floyd HERE. Fight for Breonna Taylor HERE. Help the family of Ahmaud Arbery HERE.
Want to help protesters? Donate to one or more community bail funds HERE. Visit Movement For Black Lives for additional ways you can help the cause. Want to connect with leaders building grass roots campaigns? Click HERE. Are you an ally and want to learn more? Here are some anti-racism resources.