1961 May 3

Harvard Bans Pete Seeger From Singing; Faculty Protest


Two Harvard University faculty members on this day protested Harvard University’s ban on folk singer Pete Seeger from performing on campus. The day before, Dean Watson sent a letter to the Student Council Forum Committee denying permission to invite Seeger to perform because he had recently been convicted of contempt of Congress (for refusing to answer questions before the House Un-American Activities Committee (August 18, 1955). The university’s lawyers had advised “against getting involved in cases still pending in court.” Law Professor Mark DeWolfe Howe, who was scheduled to introduce Seeger at his performance, denounced the ban as “absurd” and on “very weak [legal] ground.”

Seeger was blacklisted during the Cold War, but established himself as one of the founders of the folk music revival in the late 1950s and 1960s, performing largely on college campuses for many years. He died on January 27, 2014.

Read the biography of Seeger: David King Dunaway, How Can I Keep from Singing (1981)

Listen to Seeger Sing “This Land is Your Land” at Barck Obama’s Inauguration  (2009)http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HE4H0k8TDgw

Learn more about Pete Seeger: http://peteseeger.net/wp/

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