Yara Allen of Repairers of the Breach, the theomusicologist of the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival, opens the Campaign’s recent Mass Meetings by teaching us a number of stirring songs from movement history. One highlight, “Everybody’s Got a Right to Live,” originated during the original 1968 Campaign:


The original version of the song, written in Resurrection City, appeared on Rev. F.D. Kirkpatrick and James Collier’s album of the same name. Here is the song performed by Kirkpatrick and Collier with Pete Seeger:


Later on, Pete Seeger would re-record the song with slightly altered lyrics for his 1969 album, Now:

We are down in Washington
Fighting against an age-old sin
Nothing but mass murder
Done by age-old men.

Everybody’s got a right to live
Everybody’s got a right to live
And before this campaign fails
We’ll all go down to jail
Everybody’s got a right to live.

Can’t you hear the women and children
Over in My Lai
Screaming, “Lieutenant William Calley
Why do we have to die?”

Our brothers and our sisters
Are demanding that we share
Soil, rocks, minerals,
The ocean and the air.

No more some be rich
While others dirt poor
All around this world
We say “Poverty No More!”

Here we are in Washington
Full of hope and pain
To see if some folks gonna listen
Or will they pluck their ears again.

We haven’t got much time left
The sands are running out
“Peace, Justice, Freedom
You can hear the whole world shout!”