KEXP Documentaries: Civil Rights Songs – Mississippi Goddam

Nina Simone

Nina Simone was a famous African-American jazz singer when horrifying civil rights struggles were happening on June 11, 1963, when President Kennedy made a speech to the nation. That same day he had sent national troops to Alabama so that two African-American college students could enter the University of Alabama without being killed by angry mobs. In his speech that night, Kennedy called on all Americans to embrace equal rights for people of all colors.

Later that night, in Mississippi an assassin killed young civil rights leader Medgar Evers. Because of Kennedy’s speech this crime was all over the news. And right away Nina Simone sat down and wrote out her rage in a song. A song that would damage here career for years to come. A song that called out the government for being slow, the churches for being idealistic and the country for treating her like a second-class citizen.

Listen to the documentary now:

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KEXP Documentaries are produced by Michele Myers. Assistant is John Felthous. Executive Producer is Kevin Cole. Comments, questions or suggestions? E-mail You can hear all our KEXP Documentaries in the On Demand section of

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