In this lesson, students learn about the Beatles active stance against segregation and consider what the band’s example meant for an emerging youth culture.
The members of The Beatles grew up in Liverpool in the north of England. From the time the band formed, they were students of African-American music, such as American Rhythm and Blues, Southern Soul, Motown, and more. The “covers” (songs not written but recorded by The Beatles) included on their early records were predominantly songs made famous by African-American artists. Likely because of this respect for African-American music and their opposition to segregation, when The Beatles toured America their contracts stated explicitly that they would not perform for segregated audiences. For those who saw the group as nothing more than a “teen phenomenon,” it was a lesson in how artists can stand up for their beliefs and help to change the world they live in.