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Protest Song Of The Week: ‘Reparations Is A Must (4th Of July Love Song)’

For some, the Fourth of July is a patriotic day to celebrate the independence of the United States. For others, it is a mournful reminder of a nation built on colonialism and systemic racism.

Folk duo Dan + Claudia Zanes address the more somber side of American history with “Reparations is a Must (4th of July Love Song),” the first single off their upcoming debut album “Let Love Be Your Guide,” which will be released on September 10.

The entire album was conceived during the 2020 Black Lives Matter uprisings and coronavirus pandemic, and the eclectic collection features a wide range of genres including gospel, R&B, and Haitian folk songs.

It also displays an optimism for mending the wounds of the past and moving forward together.

The song features an introduction from educator, author, and activist Dr. Kaye Wise Whitehead, “Reparations is a Must (4th of July Love Song),” and the duo created a lyric video to further comment on the need for reparations.

“This video shows the kinds of images we both grew up with in New Hampshire,” Claudia Zanes recalled. “I saw white folks represented almost everywhere I looked. It was hard for me to find my sense of belonging. In history classes I learned very little about slavery, even less about Jim Crow, and practically nothing about the amazing achievements and contributions of Black people in America.”

“The idea of reparations never came up! And if it had, back then I had no context. This is our way of helping families talk about one of the most important issues facing our country. If we’re not talking about reparations, what are we talking about?” Zanes added.

One of the songs poignant lyrics is “but if you sing, ‘This Land Is Your Land,’ reparations is a must.”

Woody Guthrie’s “This Land Is Your Land” is a classic protest standard, whose lyrics feature a strong anti-capitalistic and anti-classist message (even though the tune’s most direct lines are often omitted). The song also deserves scrutiny due to its omission of colonialism and the issue of stolen land.

An important part of folk music is how it opens itself up for critique. Dan + Claudia’s song builds upon past folk traditions to advance an important discussion.

Listen to Dan + Claudia Zanes – “Reparations is a Must (4th of July Love Song):

CJ Baker

CJ Baker

CJ Baker is a lifelong music fan and published writer. He recently started a website chronicling the historical developments of protest music:, and can be found on Twitter @tunesofprotest