We Shall Overcome: A Song That Changed the World



“We Shall Overcome” isn’t a complicated piece of music. The first verse has only twenty-two words, most of them repeated. The melody is straightforward. The chords are basic. Yet the song has had a profound effect on people throughout the United States—and the world.

In clear, accessible language Stuart Stotts explores the roots of the tune and the lyrics in traditional African music and Christian hymns. He demonstrates the key role “We Shall Overcome” played in the civil rights, labor, and anti-war movements in America. And he traces the song’s transformation into an international anthem.

With its dramatic stories and memorable quotes, this saga of a famous piece of music offers a unique way of looking at social history. [Publisher’s description.]

About the Author 

Terrance Cummings is an award winning illustrator, an art director, and a former teacher at Parsons School of Design. He has illustrated several books and has a studio in New Jersey where he lives with his wife and two sons. 

Praise for We Shall Overcome: A Song That Changed the World

“From the informative black-and-white photographs to the solid back matter to the CD sung by Pete Seeger, it is a complete package.”—Booklist

“A fitting celebration of a song that has helped to create a better world.”—Kirkus Reviews

“A thoughtful examination of a song that, as Stotts writes, ‘seems to tap into our deepest emotions.’—Publishers Weekly

ALA Notable Children’s Book for 2011.

Credit: Written by Stuart Stotts and illustrated by Terrance Cummings. Published by Clarion Books, 2010.