"If I Had a Hammer" Covered by Mark Dignam — 50th Anniversary March on Washington

by Leslie Anne Mcilroy

Hammer & A Bell

HEArt celebrates the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom and acknowledges the signal contributions of its organizers and participants toward passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Participating artists on August 28, 1963 included Mahalia Jackson, Marian Anderson, Joan Baez, and Bob Dylan.

In addition, Peter, Paul, and Mary performed their version of “The Hammer Song” (“If I Had a Hammer”) from the podium that afternoon. But they were also in the crowd that marched down Pennsylvania Avenue in the morning, where they joined in the singing of a spontaneous people’s rendition of this 1949 anthem, written by Pete Seeger and Lee Hays, as the Mall began to fill.

In honor of this anniversary, Pittsburgh singer-songwriter (and our HEArt Music Editor) Mark Dignam recorded a living-room version of the song. Its lyrics remain stirringly but dreadfully topical in a time of vicious economic inequality and just weeks after the United States Supreme Court vacated portions of the Voting Rights Act.

HEArt invites you to comment on Mark's video below — share it, like it, forward it, tweet it — and send us links (YouTube or Vimeo) to your own informally recorded versions of protest songs via our Contact page. We will post as many as we can provided copyrights are not infringed.

Note that all credit goes to original writers and composers for an amazing protest song. No monetary gain is being sought from publication and no copyright infringement is intended.