"This Little Light of Mine" is a gospel children's song written by composer and teacher Harry Dixon Loes (1895-1965) circa 1920. Loes, who studied at the Moody Bible Institute and the American Conservatory of Music, was a composer and teacher who wrote, and co-wrote, several other gospel songs. The song has since entered the folk tradition, first being collected by John Lomax in 1939. It was later adapted by Zilphia Horton, amongst many other activists, in connection with the Civil Rights Movement, where is was used to express unity in the struggle for equal rights.
"Swing Low, Sweet Chariot" is a historic American Negro spiritual. The earliest known recording was in 1909, by the Fisk Jubilee Singers of Fisk University. It has since become one of the most well-known of all spirituals, having been widely performed during the Civil Rights struggle of the 1960s, in TV and film and even having become the anthem of the England rugby team.
"Wade in the Water" is an African American spiritual. First published in 1901, it was popularised by the Fisk Jubilee Singers, an a cappella chorus at the historically African American Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee. It was first recorded in 1925. Whilst open to interpretation, the lyrics include biblical themes and references to slavery. The song may also have been associated with the "Underground Railroad," a network of safe houses used by escaping slaves in the U.S.
"We Shall Overcome" is a gospel song that become one of the most important anthems of the civil right movement. It was, for example, quoted by Martin Luther King during his last sermon, just four days before his assassination on April 4th, 1968 and subsequently sung by the thousand of attendees at his funeral on April 9th. The association of the song with struggle also led to its later association with the Civil Rights Movement in Northern Ireland and in the later years of the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa.
"The Gospel Train (Get on Board)" is a traditional African-American spiritual first published in 1872 as one of the songs of the Fisk Jubilee Singers. A standard Gospel song, it is found in the hymnals of many Protestant denominations and has been recorded by numerous artists. As an expression of community—the song extols all to "Get onboard" the gospel train—this made the song also popular as an expression of togetherness within the Civil Rights Movement.
"Oh, Freedom" is a post-Civil War African-American freedom song that later became associated with the Civil Rights Movement. It was made popular within that movement by the singer Odetta Holmes (known as 'Odetta') who, for example, performed it at the 1963 March on Washington. As an expression of a desire for equality, the lyrics speak for themselves:
Oh, freedom! Oh, freedom! Oh, freedom over me! And before I'd be a slave I'll be buried in my grave And go home to my Lord and be free
"I'm Gonna Sit at the Welcome Table" is a traditional American gospel and African American folk song by an anonymous author who was likely enslaved. In 1922 the Florida Normal Quartet first recorded the song as "The Welcome Table." In the 1950s and 1960s the song was modified (and known as the "Freedom Table") and served as an anthem of the Civil Rights Movement.