Pete Seeger, who died two years ago today at the age of 94, spoke with Bill a number of times over the years, and even sang a few of his folk songs. In remembrance of the activist and folksinger, we’ve pulled together some highlights in the video clips below.
Pete Seeger on Being Censored
As McCarthyism gripped America in the post-World War II era, many Americans scrambled to appear as non-dissenting as possible. Pete Seeger was not one of them. As a former member of the Young Communists’ League, he was brought before the House Un-American Activities Committee in 1955. In this clip, Seeger remembers how he felt during the 1950s and 1960s, when he was confronted by intimidation and censorship.
What it Takes to Change the World
In this clip, Seeger says that music has a power that — even after decades of playing it — he still doesn’t fully understand. “All I know,” he says, “is that throughout history, the leaders of countries have been very particular about what songs they want sung, so some people, beside me, must think songs do something.” There are more people working to change the world every day, he says, and eventually they’ll be numerous enough to tip the scales.
Cleaning up the Hudson
One of Seeger’s causes was environmentalism, and one of his biggest projects was the Hudson River. In this clip, Seeger describes the ultimately successful efforts to clean it up through an organization of environmentalists based on his sailboat, The Clearwater.