Black History Month – a song to celebrate

Last year we learned the song “Ain’t gonna let nobody turn me around” and worked on devising actions to help us perform it for Black History Month. This year I want to use the song

“I wish I knew how it would feel to be free”

It was written by Billy Taylor and he recorded it in 1963 on his album “Right her, Right Now”. It was also recorded by Nina Simone.

The song became an anthem for the civil rights movement.

Have a read through of the lyrics ( as sung on the Nina Simone version)

I wish I knew how it would feel to be free
I wish I could break all the chains holding me
I wish I could say all the things that I should say
say ’em loud, say ’em clear
for the whole round world to hear.

I wish I could share all the love that’s in my heart
remove all the bars that keep us apart
I wish you could know what it means to be me
Then you’d see and agree
that every man should be free.

I wish I could give all I’m longing to give
I wish I could live like I’m longing to live
I wish that I could do all the things that I can do
though I’m way overdue I’d be starting anew.

Well I wish I could be like a bird in the sky
how sweet it would be if I found I could fly
Oh I’d soar to the sun and look down at the sea
and I’d sing cos I’d know that
and I’d sing cos I’d know that
and I’d sing cos I’d know that
I’d know how it feels to be free
I’d know how it feels to be free
I’d know how it feels to be free

Here are some different recordings of this song. Which one is your favourite?

This video starts with pictures of Nina Simone the singer but goes on to show powerful images of the civil rights movements. I find the pictures incredibly moving.

The last two videos feature John Legend. The one below is him rehearsing for a TV

This final video features John Legend marching down the road with his band on his way to his own concert!

You can play this song on the Sing Up website. if you ask nicely maybe your teacher might let you listen to it. Sing up Link here

Finally, a trivia question! Who knows which BBC programme this song was used for? (without the lyrics) Wonder who will be the first to post the answer?!

6 thoughts on “Black History Month – a song to celebrate

  1. The first video is my favorite because it shows pictures of the actual protest and how it was in that time.

    -Szymon Mlodzik 6M


    • Thanks for leaving a comment Szymon 😉


  2. Black History Month is very interesting, I looked at alot of videos about black history month and it was a very interesting,dangerous and unfair event in the world.It is very sad because I saw a very important video which i particulary liked but made me cry.The video was the song ‘I wish I knew how it would feel to be free’!


    • Thank you for sharing Jeffrey. I agree with your analysis. That period of history was certainly dangerous and unfair. Im glad you left your comment.


  3. Thank you Jennifer for leaving such a positive comment on the blog. I agree with you that the history we looked at today is completely inspiring! Please tell your Mum I really enjoyed reading “The Help”


  4. Mrs Schneider there was a film about how the black people had to be servants for the white people,it is called ”The Help”my mum has the book but it is in Spanish she has enjoyed it.When you started talking about Black history month I started to think that was when my mum was born.It really inspired me.


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