Ferguson, Missouri remains a locus of political protest. On Monday, dozens of demonstrators — among them Cornel West — found themselves under arrest in the St. Louis suburb where a police officer shot and killed unarmed teenager Michael Brown on August 9. Earlier this month, protester honored Brown’s memory by singing from the crowd at a St. Louis Symphony Orchestra concert. Now Tom Morello has shared the studio version of his blues-seared protest song, “Marching on Ferguson,” to help support arrested Ferguson protesters.
Morello debuted the song, performing as the Nightwatchman with a three-piece band, on September 5 in Los Angeles, going so far as to play the guitar with his teeth, a la Jimi Hendrix. The Rage Against the Machine six-string guru — who was recently caught up in a social media dispute with a Seattle restaurant — has made the finished version of “Marching on Ferguson” available for free via Ferguson October, a campaign against police violence in African-American communities. Morello is encouraging listeners to make voluntary donations that will go toward Ferguson demonstrators who’ve had run-ins with the authorities.
Morello writes: “I’ve witnessed countless incidents of racially motivated police brutality in my lifetime and it’s time to say ‘Enough!’ in the name of all those wrongfully killed and abused. For all the courageous men and women raising their voices against injustice in #Ferguson, and beyond, give ‘em hell. This song is for you.”
Others speaking out on Ferguson over the past couple of months include Killer Mike, Big Boi, Janelle Monáe, Frank Ocean, T.I., Talib Kweli, Common, J. Cole, G-Unit, the Game, Cat Power and Sky Ferreira. Arguably the most powerful protest song released in recognition of Brown’s shooting, though recorded long before, came from Lauryn Hill.