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Agitate (Frederick Douglass)

Jonathan Sprout

This song is available on Jonathan Sprout's
More American Heroes


FREDERICK DOUGLASS (1818-95) escaped the master’s whip at the age of 20 when he fled North, disguised as a sailor. As a strong voice for civil rights, his lecturing and reasoning were so impressive that opponents refused to believe he had been a slave. A beacon of morality whose vision transcended race and gender, he wrote books and published a newspaper discussing both the evils of slavery and the rights of women.

“If there is no struggle, there is no progress. Those who favor freedom without agitation want crops without plowing ... they want rain without thunder and lightning.” - Frederick Douglass

I once was a slave with a longing for truth,
Though books were forbidden to me.
At risk to my life, I learned how to read.
Thus, would I one day be free.

REFRAIN: I learned to agitate, stir it up, turn it all around.
Agitate, shake it loose, get it off the ground.
Agitate, shout it out! Let them hear the sound. Agitate!

I stand here before you as proof of the fact
The pain of injustice remains.
My brethren in bonds with scars on their backs
Are begging for mercy in chains.


There is no progress, if there is no fight.
There is no freedom if we do not unite.
Nothing matters more, you see,
Than claiming our equality. Agitate!



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Many thanks to Jonathan Sprout for permission to display these lyric excerpts.

Copyright 2000, Kanukatunes (ASCAP), Song Wizard Music (ASCAP), CurlyJams (BMI). Used with permission.

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