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Rockin' the Schools: 7-12 "Fight the Power": Music as a Social Force



"Fight the Power": Music as a Social Force

Suggested Grade Level: 7-12

This research guide serves as a resource for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum's Education Department course, "Fight the Power": Music as a Social Force". For additional information on the course and for more teacher resources, see

In many times and places, people have used music as a powerful tool for social change.  The story of rock and roll overlaps with some of the most turbulent times in U.S. history.  In the 1960s alone, American society was being torn apart by debates over the Vietnam War, the Civil Rights movement, and the Women’s Liberation movement.  Since that time and well into the present, musicians have entered such debates by spreading messages of revolution, protest, and empowerment through musical styles as diverse as folk, rock, and soul.  This class features songs from the 1960s and 1970s that have challenged audiences to consider the alternatives and make changes in our society.  Students explore recordings and videos of legendary artists to examine expressions of social commentary contained in lyrics, performance styles, and historical images.

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For Your Students

Online Resources


These resources, pulled from class discussion and selected from the Library and Archives' collections, will help you to:

  • Give examples of ways musicians have used popular music to pose questions about society and suggest avenues for change.
  • Interpret the lyrics of songs by applying knowledge of poetry and historical references to the Vietnam War, the 1960s counterculture, the Civil Rights movement, and the Women’s Liberation movement.
  • Explain how music and musicians both influence and are influenced by society and culture.




Archival Resources

New to Archives? Check out:

YouTube Videos

Beatles, "All You Need Is Love"

Joan Baez & Bob Dylan, Blowin' In The Wind," 1963

Grateful Dead, "The Other One," Shoreline Amphitheatre

Black Sabbath, "War Pigs," Paris, 1970

Lupe Fiasco, "Words I Never Said," featuring Skylar Grey
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