From Local 1000 President Emeritus John McCutcheon:
“Pete Seeger was not only a proud, charter member of Local 1000, he was the person that introduced so many of us to unionism. It was not with speeches, but with songs. It was not with agitation, but with action. There he was, whenever he was needed, lending a hand and a voice to workers’ struggles. He didn’t do it because of the headlines or because it was a “good career move” (actually, usually the opposite!), but because he believed in the power of song and what that power could do for ordinary people. Whether it was singing “Erie Canal” or “Solidarity Forever” being in a crowd with Pete was a transformative experience. Those who had been told their whole lives they could not sing suddenly found they could. Those who believed they had no power suddenly knew they did. Those who thought they were all alone suddenly found a community. All because of a tall, skinny guy with his bobbing Adam’s apple and a banjo.
I spoke with Pete shortly before he and his grandson, Tao Rodriguez, sang at President Obama’s inauguration concert. I said, “Pete, you’re singing at the invitation of a President.” “Yes,” he replied, “impossible, isn’t it?” I remember thinking at the time, “Well, old man, if I’ve learned anything from you, it’s that the impossible is just going to take a little time.”
There is a great hole in our family, in America, in the world today. Let us “take up the old guitar,” as Pete sang, and fill that hole, that family, this country, this world with song. It’s what he taught us. Now let’s get busy.”
Thoughtful features from Democracy Now! and The New York Times are available below:
New York Times: “Pete Seeger Songwriter and Champion of Folk Music Dies at 94” by John Pareles