Folk the Vote highlights the connection between music and politics. As an educational and outreach initiative of the Woody Guthrie Center, Folk the Vote has been the theme of community voter registration drives, voter education, early voting wayfinding, online panel discussions educating the public about issues in the current election cycle, spotlight exhibit cases at the center, and a digital exhibit.
Displayed in the “Woody Today” section of the gallery, Folk the Vote explores the power of music to energize the public for political initiatives, as well as contemporary issues such as political messaging that distorts the artist’s intent or violates the artist’s intellectual property rights. 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, the digital exhibit allows you to explore more from home. Folk the Vote online takes a deep 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, 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.” Contemporary artist-activists continue that mission as they unify ideals in song and educate us. Their work makes us feel deeper, hope longer, and dream bigger. #FolktheVote