What is taboo for humor, seen through the lens of the Holocaust and other seemingly off-limits topics, in a society that prizes free speech.
Pete Seeger’s life and music serves as a parallel narrative to the struggles for increased democracy and social justice in America since 1930.
Tim Brachoki is an educator and co-founder and coordinator of Syracuse Alternative Media Network, a not-for-profit video production cooperative. He teaches video production at Central New York schools, including Grant Middle School and the Onondaga Nation School.
If I Had A Hammer covers 60 years in the social justice movements in the United States through the life and music of Pete Seeger. The labor, civil rights, anti-war, women’s liberation, and environmental movements blossomed throughout Seeger’s life and career, and are reflected in his music. Along the way, Seeger’s life intersected with some of the great activists in American history. Stella Nowicki, Dorothy Cotton, Philip Berrigan, Byllye Avery, and Lois Gibbs add to the narratives of the various movements.
Seeger has been a singer and songwriter since 1939. He traveled the country performing with Woody Guthrie and both performed for a time with The Almanac Singers. In the early 1950s, Pete was a member of The Weavers a piopular neo-folk group. Seeger was Blacklisted during the McCarthy era for suspected communist sympathies, as well as for refusing to testify before the House Committee on Un-American Activities in 1955.
Seeger has penned and performed many of the great protest songs of the 20th centruy, iuncluding 1949’s “If I Had a Hammer,” and the Vietnam-era anti-war anthem “Where Have All the Flowers Gone?” Since the 1970s, his activist has cetnered the New York organization Clearwater, which advocates for the ecological resuscitation of the Hudson River.