As much as 2015 saw tragedy with countless acts of police brutality and racially-charged misconduct, it also saw communities coming together in solidarity.

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In particular, the #BlackLivesMatter movement has expanded its reach feverishly, working towards reforming what time and time again is proving our society has become one that deeply needs mending.

With the philosophical notion injustice for one is injustice for all, the civil-rights protest movement is tirelessly continuing to spark important cultural conversations that have become prominent in political campaign circles and on college campuses alike.


Inspiring more than protests, the #BlackLivesMatter movement has also found its way into our daily playlists with powerful anthems for a powerful movement. With #BlackHistoryMonth just getting its start, this list is sure to grow.

Kendrick Lamar – “Alright”

From Lamar’s highly successful and influential To Pimp A Butterfly, this track’s socially conscious lyrics have had protesters chanting the chorus at rallies, serving as a powerful reminder that “We gon’ be alright.”

Common and John Legend – “Glory”

From the motion picture Selma, this track connects the civil rights movement to #BlackLivesMatter, and also took home the prize for Best Original Song at the Academy Awards and Golden Globes alike, with listeners feeling its emotive message.

Daye Jack – “Hands Up” (Ft. Killer Mike)

Releasing this week in honor of #BlackHistoryMonth, Daye Jack shared a new music video for the single “Hands Up” featuring Killer Mike. Both artists have been very vocal about #BLM, and this song represents two generations of Atlanta hip-hop artists working together to voice their concern for officer-involved shootings.

Lauryn Hill – “Black Rage”

Posting on her Soundcloud, 5-time Grammy award winning artist Lauryn Hill released “An old sketch of Black Rage, done in my living room. Strange, the course of things. Peace for MO,” shortly thereafter the death of Michael Brown. The track has racked up over one million listens in a years time.

Taina Asili – Freedom (Ft. Michael Reyes)

This anthem by Taina Asili compares freedom during different eras, with a focus on incarceration, and opens with the statistic that there currently are more Black people under correctional supervision at this time than there were enslaved in 1850. Taina is a true talent, and a true social justice warrior.

Masai – “Me and the Devil” (Ft. Amani O+)

In this track for Dontay Ivy, an unarmed man that died after being tased by police after being stopped for questioning in Albany, New York, upstate emcee Masai and poetess Amani O+ share their response with powerful lyrics, spoken word and sound clips from news reports.

Aloe Blacc – “Let The Games Begin”

Freshly released yesterday, [February 1], Aloe Blacc shares his new single, off of the RACE movie soundtrack that features motivational lyrics that can lift listeners up in more situations than just athletic ones.

Aloe Blacc – Merry Christmas Mr. Brown

This sad but very real Christmas song is dedicated in remembrance of the many lives lost in the past year due to officer shootings. The powerful song paired with a montage of photos of Michael Brown, Sandra Bland and Eric Garner, to name a few, pulls at the heart strings and is an absolutely beautiful tribute.

Janelle Monáe – Hell You Talmbout (Ft. Wondaland)

R&B singer Janelle Monáe released a six-and-a-half minute long protest song whose power to spread its message is in its simplicity, with lyrics chanting the names of Black Americans killed by police, followed by the phrase “Say his/her name.”

Vita Elizabeth – “Hell You Aint Talmbout”

From the artist herself, “This track is in response to the initial recording of “Hell You Talmbout” by Janelle Monáe. The track, albeit powerful, once again proved to the world that even within the minds and spirits of black people, our Black Trans siblings are left behind, even in death. This track is a call to those that have forgotten us, as well as a chance to lift of my fallen black trans symbols, who should have been lifted up in the first place.”

JB!! aka Dirty Moses – Lights Up

With lyrics focusing on topics ranging from Ferguson to Eric Garner to martial law, Upstate New York emcee JB takes listeners through his frustration with current events, piecing in news clips and sound bites and ending his last verse with “Change is coming, hold on.”

Honorable mention:

Macklemore & Ryan Lewis – “White Privilege II” (Ft. Jamila Woods)

A follow-up to his 2005 song of the same name, Macklemore has been in the media spotlight since the release of this 9-minute song. While the dialogue has been both constructive and critical, most can agree that the anthem focusing on white privilege serves the important role of sparking conversation about these heavy issues.

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