November 11 – Rise UP Singing

On Saturday, November 11, Rise UP Singing brought voices of the Indianapolis community together to sing for historic and contemporary social justice causes: civil rights, worker justice, human equality, and environmental protection. The idea behind this Spirit & Place event was that social movements power change and singing together empowers social movements. Participants learned about the important role music has played in various social justice causes through video, discussion, and group singing.


Jeremiah Marcele Sanders led the audience in five movement-provoking songs. Sanders graduated from Butler University with a Master of Music degree and in addition to being passionate about singing, he cares deeply about social justice, dance, and travel. Sanders chose five songs that have historically been used to galvanize groups of people to a cause. The chosen songs were We Shall Overcome, We Shall Not Be Moved, This Little Light of Mine, This Land Is Your Land, and The Tide is Rising. A video clip of the song being used during marches, gatherings, and protests were shown to the audience followed by Sanders leading the song. Sanders encouraged the audience to insert in words or phrases to the different verses to suit a cause they were passionate about. Members of the audience would call out the next line to be added into the song. For example, during This Little Light of Mine, “Up on Capitol Hill” was an added verse.


Following the movement songs, the audience chose a breakout group to be a part of. The groups were worker justice, civil rights, human equality, and environmental justice. Each group was tasked with creating new lyrics for one of the movement songs. The breakout group on human equality brainstormed different verses that could be added to illustrate the wide range of human rights this group champions. “Believing women’s stories,” “right to our own bodies,” and “hearing children’s voices” were a few examples of the verses that were presented by the human rights groups. The groups reconvened and taught the audience their new rendition of the movement song. Rise UP Singing provided a safe space for thought-provoking song and left audience members with new skills that can be utilized in marches or protests.


Rise Up was funded by a grant from the Rockefeller Family Fund and presented by the Christian Theological Seminary, Indiana Earth Charter, Indianapolis Worker Justice Center, and the Desmond Tutu Center.

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