The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) was adopted on 10 December 1948. The date has since served to mark Human Rights Day worldwide. On Wednesday we will mark the day with our annual Human Rights Channel – Year in Review video. Till then, we curated this Music Monday playlist of songs about well-known human rights defenders and about human rights more broadly.

Feature image based on photo by Carlos Barria and curating helped by volunteer Hope Johnson

Human Rights: The Beginning by Hana-li – “These are human rights, and they are free – for you and me. It all starts with you and me. Did you know you have a right to life?” ~ Lyrics

Keep Your Head Up by 2Pac – “Cuz I think we can make it. In fact, I’m sure. And if you fall, stand tall and come back for more.” Addressing poverty, racism, violence against women, Tupac covers a lot of human rights issues in America in this song while encouraging and reminding us of hope and our own dignity.” ~ Matisse

Fight the Power by Public Enemy – “Michael Brown, Eric Garner. Tamir Rice. Enough.” ~ Grace

Be The Change (Ghandi Rap Song) by M.C. Yogi – “Dedicated to all spiritual activists, truth seekers, and peaceful warriors, world- wide…be the change you want to see” ~ Lyrics

On Every Corner by Ani DeFranco – “Will they say the victims were thought of as criminals…tell me which is the crime? May you never test positive for pregnancy, HIV…may you never be blamed”~ Lyrics

Palestine Will Be Free by Maher Zain – “Palestine, tomorrow we’ll be free. I keep my head high…bombs fall from the sky like teardrops from the sun’s eyes” ~ Lyrics

Biko by Peter Gabriel – Peter Gabriel recently spoke about the importance of Steve Biko as a human rights activist and the impact the writing of the song had on his own involvement with human rights causes. 

[Steve Biko] was a great young leader of the black consciousness movement, not the ANC [African National Congress]. But he would have been a great future statesman….

What was shocking about it was that it had got some coverage. Not huge, but it got enough to be noticed around the world when he was arrested. And most of us then assumed he’s gonna be protected by the media coverage. So when he was actually killed, it was shocking.

I wrote the song, and it was a bit like a calling card. Then I got invited on this, that and the other and particularly the Amnesty tours, which in ’86 and ’88 — the ’88 one went around the world. We suddenly started meeting people who were in the front line of these extraordinary experiences. ~ Peter Gabriel in an interview with Al Jazeera America’s “Talk to Al Jazeera

I Was Here by Beyonce – “When I leave this world, I’ll leave no regrets. I was here. I lived. I loved.” ~ Lyrics

Umi Says by Mos Def – “Every time I hear this song it gives me hope. No matter how dark or bad things may seem shine your light. Know something better is coming.” ~ Tiffany Martin

Killing in the Name of by Rage Against the Machine – “Killing in the name of!
Some of those that work forces are the same that burn crosses” ~ Lyrics, song submitted by Michael

Speak for the Trees by Earth Guardians – “We slash and we burn, will we ever learn, if a forest catches fire, a small part of us will burn” ~ Lyrics, song submitted by Kelly & Tingo

Cashout by Fugazi – “Talking about process and dismissal, forced removal of the people on the corner, shelter and location, everybody wants somewhere” ~ Lyrics, song submitted by Jackie

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