Woody Guthrie built a strong reputation after 1942 as an artist and activist opposed to racism. From that time, he had a consistent ideology that promoted racial justice and economic equality for all. This essay examines pivotal earlier events when he was effectively confronted by two Black people for singing racist lyrics on the radio in 1937 and 1939 and also examines the roles of the “long Civil Rights Movement,” the Communist Party USA, and the Black press in aiding Guthrie's development of a new racial consciousness.

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