In the tradition of protest songs like Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the USA,” Public Enemy’s “Fight the Power” and Sam Cooke’s “A Change Is Gonna Come” comes “”Everybody Knows (For Trayvon Martin),” from Hurray for the Riff Raff.
“I wrote this song last year, on February 26th, one year after Trayvon Martin was shot to death in a Florida suburb. A young black man barely 17 years old brought to his end for no reason other than suspicion. It also happened to be my birthday,” said Alynda Lee Segarra, the singer-songwriter at the helm of Hurray for the Riff Raff. “As I celebrated another year on Earth, I was haunted by the fact that his life ended so soon. After a visit to the Civil Rights museum in Memphis, I wrote this song. This song is a reminder that we must not forget him. We must not forget about the work that lies ahead of us.”
Hurray for the Riff Raff never released the song, though, but now, after the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, the track has tragically broader implications. Now, Segarra has decided to use the song, which TIME is premiering below, as a springboard to foment action.
Hurray for the Riff Raff has never shied away from tackling tough issues in music. On their album, Small Town Heroes, was “The Body Electric,” a quietly powerful song about violence against women. “The process of writing ‘The Body Electric’ was very powerful for me,” said Segarra. “I felt the waves of a 26 year span of desires to see all women free from violence crash into me. It was anger, a desire for justice and a dream of change. It was not until I was done recording it, and I listened back that I heard the questions asked fully. I hope the song not only speaks to women, but to anyone who has the desire to be free.”
Since then, Segarra was compelled to help actualize change by establishing The Body Electric Fund. “I hope to use our platform as a band to shine the spotlight on those organizations that do the work that can truly change our futures,” Segarra said. “I want to help encourage our youth to become the next Maya Angelou, Audre Lorde and Dr. Martin Luther King that we so desperately need in these grave and important times.”
To that end the group has started an IndieGogo campaign to help fund a video for “The Body Electric” and to help raise funds for both The Trayvon Martin Foundation and the Third Wave Fund. Find out more about their campaign here: