Guest Columnist: There’s something happening here

Megan Brown is a senior magazine journalism major and the opinion editor for The Kent Stater. Contact her at mbrow121@kent.edu.

Megan Brown is a senior magazine journalism major and the opinion editor for The Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected]

Megan Brown

When the Ferguson grand jury’s decision not to indict former police officer Darren Wilson in the killing of Michael Brown was announced,  some Americans had had enough and protests took place. And to add another unjust decision, a New York City grand jury also did not indict the policer officer who killed Eric Garner, a 43-year-old unarmed black man.

Last week, Rolling Stone asked its readers to weigh in on the best protest songs of all time. This wasn’t to make light of the situation but show that voices of others can be heard through music.

At number three was “For What It’s Worth” by Buffalo Springfield. Stephen Stills wrote this song in 1966 in agreement with hippies who fought Californian cops after they threatened a new curfew for Santa Barbara. “There’s something happening here/What it is ain’t exactly clear/There’s a man with a gun over there, telling me I got to beware/I think it’s time we stop, children, what’s that sound/Everybody look what’s going down.” Even though this song was written almost 50 years ago, it still has the same meaning today. Those who are protesting peacefully just want to be heard. They don’t want to be told to stop by the authority who have given them injustice.  

The number two spot was the song near and dear to us, “Ohio” by Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. After the shootings at Kent State in 1970, Neil Young saw the picture of Mary Ann Vecchio kneeling over the dead body of Jeffrey Miller, a Kent State student, and wrote “Ohio.” “Tin soldiers and Nixon coming, we’re finally on our own/This summer I hear the drumming/Four dead in Ohio.” Whenever I hear this song, I don’t just think of how appealing it is musically, but I can see the anger within the words. I go back to when I learned about the Kent State shootings in high school and briefly talking about it in my freshman FYE class. I think about what Kent State has overcome in the past almost 45 years since that day. The death of four people that day was unfair just like the deaths of Michael Brown, Tamir Rice and Eric Garner.

What I’m seeing now is terrible sadness in the world for equality and civil rights. I’m hoping to see change in the near future, or this world will just continue to trouble. Let’s take a lesson from these protest songs and hope musicians today can help make a change toward equality. Here’s to hoping we can meaningfully sing Bob Dylan’s “The Times They Are A-Changin’”

sometime soon.