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Most people know Woody Guthrie as the author of the song that's often called our second national anthem, "This Land Is Your Land." Not everyone knows that it's a protest song. In the winter of 1940, Guthrie was hitchhiking his way east to New York City at the invitation of Will Geer, an actor best known later in his life for playing Grandpa Zebulon Tyler Walton on the show "The Waltons." At the time, Geer was a stage actor and political activist who saw something in Woody Guthrie that he wanted to share with the rest of the world. Guthrie, for his part, was a down-and-out Okie with limited prospects and four mouths to feed besides his own. He had been spending time traveling back and forth between California and Texas trying to stir his fellow Americans out of the slumber caused by the Great Depression. He had already written hundreds of songs but he wasn't done yet. (excerpt)


This piece appeared on Education Week as part of Dr. Powell's opinion blog, "The K-12 Contrarian." The original version is available online here.