The 25 Most Important Civil Rights Moments in Music History

Public Enemy Releases "Fight The Power" As a Single

Date: June, 1989

During the 1980s, an empowered new generation of Black youth began to interpret the civil rights movement in a different, more direct way, far removed from the "I Have A Dream" idealism of the 1960s. This moment was crystalized in the pastel wardrobes and white-hot dialogue of Spike Lee's "Do The Right Thing," and punctuated with the seven-minute companion video for Public Enemy's "Fight The Power." In the Lee-directed clip, Chuck D denounces the marches and speeches of the 60s and calls for more radical action, promising that "the young black America... ain't goin' out like that '63 nonsense." The clip documents a large rally in Bed-stuy against the racially motivated violence that had plagued the city-red, black, and green pan-African imagery, civilian militia in black suits and gumby fades, and a well-placed Decepticons flag all flash by before the beat even drops. This landmark song and video are widely considered hip-hop's greatest, and helped to mobilize a new youth culture with a civil rights movement of their own.

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