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Folk the Vote

Folk the Vote is an initiative of the Woody Guthrie Center to highlight the connection between music and politics. ​As an educational and outreach initiative, Folk the Vote has been the theme of our community voter registration drives, voter education, early voting way finding, our online panel discussions educating the public about issues in this election cycle, the cases in our gallery to explore the power music​ has to energize the public for political initiatives, and ​the deeper dive into the connections between music and politics ​in our digital exhibit.

Our spotlight exhibit cases in the “Woody Today” section of our gallery, Folk the Vote, explore the power of music to energize the public for political initiatives and the history of music and politics, as well as contemporary issues when political messaging that isn’t conducive to the intent of the artists ​or violates the intellectual property rights of the artists. Included in these cases are items from Bruce Springsteen, Jackson Browne, The Dropkick Murphys, Ani DiFranco, John Mellencamp, Pete Seeger, and Jay Farrar.

To complement the physical exhibit, we also have a digital exhibit to ​allow you to explore more from home.  Folk the Vote online takes a deeper dive into the sometimes-messy intersection of music and politics. Starting with the history of People’s Songs actively participating and writing songs for the Henry Wallace 1948 presidential campaign, to Josh White and the FDR White House, through McCarthyism and the House Un-American Activities Committee, we see how politics of the past affected artists’ ability to speak truth to power. The story continues through the voices of contemporary artists who use their platform to speak up about issues and politics, and their responses when politicians or campaigns use their work without permission.

In Woody’s own words, “I’m an educator, not any entertainer.” Our contemporary artist-activists continue that mission as they unify our ideals in song and educate us. Their work makes us feel deeper, hope longer, and dream bigger. #FolktheVote