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Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Inspiring Even When Gone

Yesterday, Pete Seeger, a folksinger, activist and storyteller who had a profound effect on the world, died at the age of 94.  I just found out, and I'm sitting here at work, weeping.  When I think about the important influences of my life, Pete Seeger ranks up there right after family members.  I grew up listening to his records, singing his songs and laughing at his stories, attending his concerts and always being invited to sing along.  My desire to make the world a better, more inclusive place has its roots in Pete Seeger's inspiration.

Pete Seeger, inviting people to sing along

Pete said, "Be wary of great leaders.  Hope that there are many, many small leaders."  I think of the ripple effect he's had, of all the people in the world who are doing their small parts to try to work for justice or environmental causes partly because Pete Seeger said they could.  I'm imagining the incredibly powerful experience of singing together and the hope and strength that can come from it.  I'm deeply grateful to have been exposed to his work and his humor and his determination to speak truth to power, and I hope that something of his inclusive, joyful spirit can live on in my work in the library world.

A display of books and music by Pete Seeger would be a lovely tribute this week...


  1. Leah, I agree. Pete has always been listed as one of my heroes, and I attended several concerts or rallies or conferences in the '80s and '90s where he was featured. We would ALWAYS end in a sing-along, and I believe that getting people to sign together is one of the best ways to help people remember what is true, and good. How we are, as different as we seem, mostly alike, and CAN find a way to work things out. You couldn't leave a Pete Seeger event without feeling better, more hopeful. The world seems sadder without him in it.

    After being active since the 1930s, he led and inspired the urban folk music renewal of the '80s. It got me through a horrible decade of Greed is Good, going to hear musicians sing about gardening, rivers, and supporting the campesinos of Central America. The song We Shall Overcome was very important to my dad, who marched once with Martin Luther King Jr and went to jail. Pete LIVED his advocacy, too, in many ways, and inspired countless thousands to make a difference in their own areas.

    I will try to do a display, and I hope you will post this as well on the broader lists, not just Youth Services.

    Rebecca, Baldwin

  2. Thanks Rebecca! Feel free to share this post. It is on the IFLS website now, too.

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