Sunday, December 30, 2007


On August 18, 1955, Seeger was subpoenaed to testify before the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) where he refused to name personal and political associations stating it would violate his First Amendment rights...

(Witness consulted with counsel.)

MR. SEEGER: Again, I say I will be glad to tell what songs I have ever sung, because singing is my business.

MR. TAVENNER: I am going to ask you.

MR. SEEGER: But I decline to say who has ever listened to them, who has written them, or other people who have sung them.

MR. TAVENNER: Did you sing this song, to which we have referred, "Now Is the Time," at Wingdale Lodge on the weekend of July Fourth?

MR. SEEGER: I don't know any song by that name, and I know a song with a similar name. It is called "Wasn't That a Time." Is that the song?

CHAIRMAN WALTER: Did you sing that song?

MR. SEEGER: I can sing it. I don't know how well I can do it without my banjo.


MR. SEEGER: "I am not going to answer any questions as to my association, my philosophical or religious beliefs or my political beliefs, or how I voted in any election, or any of these private affairs. I think these are very improper questions for any American to be asked, especially under such compulsion as this."


MR. SEEGER: I have sung for Americans of every political persuasion, and I am proud that I never refuse to sing to an audience, no matter what religion or color of their skin, or situation in life. I have sung in hobo jungles, and I have sung for the Rockefellers, and I am proud that I have never refused to sing for anybody. That is the only answer I can give along that line.

Pete Seeger rewrote the old hymn "How Can I Keep from Singing" to which he added these words:

When tyrants tremble, sick with fear,
And hear their death-knell ringing,

I'm sure that this is one of the songs he had in mind when he offered to sing for the HUAC.

Here was a man who knew how to "testify"

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