The "Battle Hymn Of The Republic", one of America's most famous songs, has a long history of being adapted for activist causes since it was written by Julia Ward Howe in 1861.
In fact, it was rewritten as an anthem for both the Women's and the Civil Rights movements over the years. In 1890, women's rights activists created "Battle Hymn of the Suffragists"; it's been made into a famous union tune, "Solidarity Forever"; and years later, Len Chandler, a folk singer and Civil Rights activist, changed the lyrics of the original ("Glory! Glory ! Hallelujah! Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!") to "Move On Over... Or We'll Move On Over You".
A similar version of Tax's anthem was sung by feminist activists, including Gloria Steinem, at the 1972 Democratic National Convention in Miami. That Convention was filmed by Sandra Houch and turned into the once-lost documentary, "The Year of the Woman."
It's alarming how much the lyrics -- of both versions -- ring true today. It's an awesome battle hymn, one we should remember and reflect on often.
Below are Tax's lyrics, reprinted with her permission:
THE BATTLE HYMN OF WOMENMine eyes have seen the glory of the flame of women’s rageKept smoldering for centuries, now burning in this age.We no longer will be prisoners in that same old gilded cageThat’s why we’re marching on.CHORUS:Move on over or we’ll move on over youMove on over or we’ll move on over youMove on over or we’ll move on over youFor women’s time has come!You have told us to speak softly, to be gentle and to smileExpected us to change ourselves with every passing style.Said the only work for women was to clean and sweep and fileThat’s why we’re marching on!CHORUSIt is we who’ve done your cooking, done your cleaning, kept your rules.We gave birth to your children and we taught them in your schools.We’ve kept the system running but we’re laying down our tools.That’s why we’re marching on!CHORUSYou think that you can buy us off with crummy wedding ringsYou never give us half the profit that our labor bringsOur anger eats into us, we’ll no longer bend to kings,That’s why we’re marching on.CHORUSWe have broken through our shackles, now we sing a battle songWe march for liberation and we’re many thousands strongWe’ll build a new society, we’ve waited much too long,That’s why we’re marching on!CHORUS
Check out the trailer for "The Year of the Woman" below.
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