India Arie
Blessid Union of Souls
Tracy Chapman
Ani Difranco
Fisk Univ. Jubilee Singers
Gil Scott Heron
Ice Cube
Mason Jennings
Talib Kweli
Bob Marley
Curtis Mayfield
Prussian Blue
Public Enemy
Jill Scott
Tupac Shakur
The Band
Kanye West


8 Mile
A Time to Kill
American History X
Bend It Like Beckham
Boys Don't Cry
Gentleman's Agreement
G.I. Jane
The Green Mile
Guess Who
Hotel Rwanda
I Am Sam
Malcolm X
Mi Familia
Mississippi Burning
Out of the Ashes
Pleasantville (1)
Pleasantville (2)
Real Women Have Curves
Schindler's List
Something New
The Birth of a Nation
The Pianist
To Kill a Mockingbird


Gil Scott Heron

Gil Scott-Heron surfaced in the early 1970s with albums entitled What’s Going on and There’s a Riot Goin’ On. By 1970, many people who were struggling for civil rights started to focus less attention on the need for equality and more attention on the need for Black Power. The Civil Rights Movement was weakening because the various groups that were a part of it were fighting with themselves. As a result, their attempts to persuade the government of the need for change failed. This change was evident in popular Black as well. The lyrics spoke less of the need to work together and took on a more belligerent tone.

This new approach opened the door to the music of Gil Scott-Heron. His was angry and his music reflected the attitudes of oppressed people who also were angry. He was angry that the struggle for freedom had been cut short. He was not willing to compromise. Heron was brave enough to take a stand and talk about the problems he saw in the United States. His voice highlighted the country’s mistakes and focused attention on public apathy. He was convicted in his belief that the struggle to be free would not be easy. 

Heron’s song The Revolution Will Not Be Televised illustrates the nature of his music: 

                   There will be no highlights on the eleven o’clock news
                   and no pictures of hairy armed women liberationists
                   and Jacki Onassis blowing her nose.
                   The theme song will not be written by Jim Webb,
                   Francis Scott Key, nor sung by Glen Campbell, Tom Jones,
                   Johnny Cash Englebert Humperdink, or the Rare Earth.
                   The revolution will not be televised.
                   The revolution will not be right back
                   after a message about a white tornado, white lightening, or white people.
                   You will not have to worry about a dove in your bedroom,
                   a tiger in your tank, or the giant in your toilet bowl.
                   The revolution will not go better with Coke.
                   The revolution will not fight the germs that may cause bad breath.
                   The revolution will put you in the driver’s seat.
                   (©1990 RCA; From:

These lyrics show both hostility and courageousness. Heron suggested that the issues facing black Americans were being ignored. He mocked the lifestyle of the privileged class, the things that mainstream society views as important. Heron’s work is admirable because he stepped forward to confront social problems. Even if this was a small step, it made a big impact. He was tired of oppression and wanted to stop it, so he used his talents to bring important issues to the surface.


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