One of the most powerful protest songs of the 20th century, "Strange Fruit" is part of a long tradition of American protest music as old as the nation itself.

In harmony with the First Amendment's guarantee of freedom of speech, music has long been an expression of faith, freedom, peace and justice. Throughout American history, songs have cried out against inequality, poverty and war, and in support of workers, civil and human rights.

The catalog of protest music is vast. This overview highlights some of the American songs and songwriters whose words and music served as catalysts for thought, action and even social change.

STRANGE FRUIT Indie Film Resources About Independent Lens Program Guide Independent Lens Home Message Music 2000-present Anti-Establishment 1980s-1990s Civil Rights and Vietnam 1960-1970s War, Labor and Race 1940s-1950s The Great Depression 1930-1940 The Workers 1900-1930s Abolitionist and Women's Rights 1830s-1900s Slavery 1776-1800