1961 April 11

No Folk Singing Allowed in the Park!


New York City Mayor Robert Wagner on this day announced his support for a ban on folk singing in Washington Square Park. The park, in the heart of Greenwich Village, was the center of the folk music revival of the 1950s and 1960s. Singing in the park became an important musical, cultural, and political phenomenon. Neighborhood residents, organized as the Committee to Preserve the Dignity of Washington Square Park, however, objected to both the crowds and the noise in the park.

The folk music community, organized as the Right to Sing Committee and with support from the ACLU and other groups, fought back and defended the right of people to assemble and sing in a public space. Under pressure, the mayor partially lifted his ban on May 14, 1961.

See the documentary, Greenwich Village Sunday: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=axkC9ifSWys

Read: Robert Cantwell, When We Were Good: The Folk Revival (1996)

Watch a documentary on the folk revival: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hr9FP93o8Ro&list=PL2217130639577C56

Learn more about the folk music revival: Ronald Cohen, Rainbow Quest: The Folk Music Revival and American Society, 1940–1970 (2002)

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