Pete Seeger’s testimony before the House Unamerican Activities Committee, August 18, 1955

Want to bolster your decision to remain an autonomous individual who loves the people and the land and refuses to bow down to fascism? Read this transcript. Via David.


MR. TAVENNER: I have before me a photostatic copy of the April 30, 1948, issue of the Daily Worker which carries under the same title of “What’s On,” an advertisement of a “May Day Rally: For Peace, Security and Democracy.” The advertisement states: “Are you in a fighting mood? Then attend the May Day rally.” Expert speakers are stated to be slated for the program, and then follows a statement, “Entertainment by Pete Seeger.” At the bottom appears this: “Auspices Essex County Communist Party,” and at the top, “Tonight, Newark, N.J.” Did you lend your talent to the Essex County Communist Party on the occasion indicated by this article from the Daily Worker?

MR. SEEGER: Mr. Walter, I believe I have already answered this question, and the same answer.

CHAIRMAN WALTER: The same answer. In other words, you mean that you decline to answer because of the reasons stated before?

MR. SEEGER: I gave my answer, sir.

CHAIRMAN WALTER: What is your answer?

MR. SEEGER: You see, sir, I feel-

CHAIRMAN WALTER: What is your answer?

MR. SEEGER: I will tell you what my answer is.

(Witness consulted with counsel [Paul L. Ross].)

I feel that in my whole life I have never done anything of any conspiratorial nature and I resent very much and very deeply the implication of being called before this Committee that in some way because my opinions may be different from yours, or yours, Mr. Willis, or yours, Mr. Scherer, that I am any less of an American than anybody else. I love my country very deeply, sir.

CHAIRMAN WALTER: Why don’t you make a little contribution toward preserving its institutions?

MR. SEEGER: I feel that my whole life is a contribution. That is why I would like to tell you about it.

CHAIRMAN WALTER: I don’t want to hear about it.

MR. SCHERER: I think that there must be a direction to answer.

CHAIRMAN WALTER: I direct you to answer that question.

MR. SEEGER: I have already given you my answer, sir.

Here he is, talking about this ordeal and his reasoning.

He was convicted. “They led me out in handcuffs.” In jail for six hours, until his lawyer got him out. But the sentence was for one year. The appeals process, in which he was finally vindicated, lasted until 1962.

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2 Responses to Pete Seeger’s testimony before the House Unamerican Activities Committee, August 18, 1955

  1. queenvictrola says:

    What a blessing his life was to all of us. Please listen his his last song: Good Journey my friend,

  2. rose day says:

    For some inexplicable reason I feel that humanity is very close to ‘freeing the bonds’ despite all
    indications to the contrary as both mainstream and alternate media ramp-up the doom and gloom.

    My first thought upon hearing of Pete Seeger’s death was sadness that he will miss the celebration.
    My second thought was that he and all the troubadours before him will be leading the celebration!

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