We asked the world's top social activists to help us make a protest mixtape

This image was removed due to legal reasons.

Every revolution has an anthem. During the Arab Spring, it was Tunisian rapper El General's 'Rayes Le Bled’. The anti-Vietnam War protest movement arguably had several, including Marvin Gaye’s ‘What’s Going On’.


At our RiseUp event on Wednesday, Fusion is convening a who's who of people waging their own revolutions in spaces across the globe. We asked a handful of the participants to help us put together a protest mixtape, and to tell us about what inspires them to do what they do.

* some of these songs have naughty words.

Gil Scott-Heron- The Revolution Will Not Be Televised

via Marc Rotenberg, Founder, Electronic Privacy Information Center

Rotenberg helped organize the first internet petition, and has been actively working to stop the National Security Administration's plans to monitor email.


Peter is inspired by: "People who are courageous, determined, and principled. People who get back up when they are pushed down. People who don’t get distracted by the distractions. People who have confidence in who they are but know that what they do is not about them."

Killer Mike- Reagan

via Sascha Meinrath, Director of X-Lab, Founder of Open Technology Institute

Meinrath has been called a "community internet pioneer" for his work to empower consumers in the face of major telecom and wireless industry lobbies.

Meinrath is inspired by: "All those who remain unbowed in the face of oppression and retaliation.  We are living in an era of increasing temerity — those who stand in the face of this cravenness themselves become targets. It takes a monumental amount of courage to not only fight, but persevere."

Ani DiFranco- Hello Birmingham

via Liz Marshall, Filmmaker, The Ghosts In Our Machine

Marshall is a celebrated Canadian filmmaker whose works have explored issues such as: HIV/AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa, sweatshop labor and corporate-globalization.


She is inspired by: "Artists (musicians, filmmakers, photographers, painters, dancers, writers, sculptors etc…) who contribute in meaningful ways, whether through posing significant questions, educating, inspiring happiness, beauty love and romance."

Bob Marley- Redemption Song

via Walid al-Saqaf, Yemeni journalist and anti-censorship activist

In 2007, al-Saqaf created the Yemen Portal— an online news aggregator covering Yemen. After the site was blocked by the government, he launched the software Alkasir, which helps users get around government censors. The software has since spread to countries like China and Iran.


"My deceased father Prof. Abdulaziz (1951-1999) inspired me because of his resilient spirit and entrepreneurial tendencies. He launched Yemen Times as the first English-language newspaper in tough times and managed to continue his academic career nonetheless. His determination to succeed despite the odds and his commitment to help others will always be my inspiration."

Philip Glass- The Poet Acts

via Caitria O'Neill, Co-founder/CEO Emeritus of Recovers.org

After a tornado devastated her hometown Monson, MA., O'Neill helped found Recovers.org, a crisis response system that has since helped hundreds of thousands in local recovery efforts.


O' Neill is inspired by: "George Orwell. I think that knowing your strengths is important when it comes to activism. George turned political commentary on authoritarianism and totalitarianism into literature. More, he filled his imagined worlds with incredible ideas and pieces of technology yet to be built, or avoided. He took his skill with words and used it to speak to the whole world."

Kendrick Lamar- HiiiPower

via Michael Tubbs, Councilmember, City of Stockton

Elected at age of 21, Tubbs was the youngest city council member in Stockton, California’s history, earning more than 60% of the citywide vote. While in office, he has started literacy programs, drafted and passed ‘Ban the Box’ legislation, and piloted an anti-recidivism back to work program.


"Historically, Harriet Tubman, Frederick Douglass and Sojourner Truth have inspired me because they drove change despite facing so many more obstacles than we face today," Tubbs said.

Lauryn Hill- Everything Is Everything

via Aliya Rahman, Program Director at Code for Progress

As the program director for Code For Progress, Rahman leads the recruitment, in-residence training and job placement of women and people of color into socially conscious full-time developer positions.


Rahman is inspired by: "Young activists of color working to make the United States live up to its ideals of racial equality in 2014."

Tracy Chapman- Talking 'Bout a Revolution

via Naomi Hirabayashi, Chief Marketing Officer, DoSomething.org

Through her position at DoSomething.org, Hirabayashi is obsessed with "making the world suck less." Namely, she aims at protecting indigenous tribes and building a world where everyone can receive quality education "regardless of your socio-economic status or gender."


Hirabayashi is inspired by: "Amy Poehler - humor for good. I love [her] so much. Also, the content she publishes on her YouTube channel, Smart Girls, is grade-A stuff, empowering, accessible and good messaging for young girls."

Daniel Rivero is a producer/reporter for Fusion who focuses on police and justice issues. He also skateboards, does a bunch of arts related things on his off time, and likes Cuban coffee.

Share This Story

Get our newsletter