22 Best Songs about Equality and Equal Rights

The world can seem like an unforgiving place that refuses to accept everyone, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t good-hearted people trying to make a difference. Many people hold onto the simple but profound belief that peace and love will bring everyone together.

From anti-government music to songs about human rights, you’ll see that these songs about equality prove that humanity can come together and live peaceably. Let these songs encourage you to stay strong and create a better tomorrow!

Same Love – Macklemore & Ryan Lewis

Macklemore brings attention to the inequality gay people have struggled with, such as stereotypes and hateful words. He also draws attention to how the hip-hop genre of music isn’t welcoming to the LGBT+ community and hopes for a more inclusive future. The song charted at number 6 in the UK and 11 in the US.

Related: This song features on our playlist of popular songs with love in the title.

400 Years – Bob Marley & The Wailers

The 400 years in question refer to the period of exile in the Bible and reference a Rastafarian rebellion that will lead them to freedom, which is racial equality. Bob Marley expresses his concerns for the youth, but the song is mostly hopeful and encouraging about how better days are yet to come.

Related: Find more great songs that inspire hope.

Where is the Love? – Black Eyed Peas

The Black Eyed Peas released this song in 2003 and was inspired by the September 11 tragedy in 2001, followed by the US deploying troops in Iraq in 2003. The tension during these two years resulted in racism and hatred, so the Black Eyed Peas released this song to inspire people to love their neighbors and stand up to injustice. The song charted in the Top 10 in the US and UK.

The Power of Equality – Red Hot Chili Peppers

Red Hot Chili Peppers brings attention to inequality and racism in America and how everyone needs to fight against it to put an end to it, calling for racial harmony. The song references Public Enemy because it’s in a similar style to that band’s typical sound.

Related: Check out similar songs on our playlist of songs about injustice.

Beds Are Burning – Midnight Oil

This song is a plea to land back to the Pintupi, the last native Australians who had land stolen from them many years ago. Midnight Oil feels that it isn’t right for everyone to benefit from living from stolen land and believes everyone should give back what isn’t theirs. Even though the song is political and potentially controversial, it charted at number 6 in Australia and the Top 10 in many other countries.

Related: Feel the heat with these songs with fire in the title.

Greatest Love of All –  Whitney Houston

This number 1 hit in the US is about learning to love yourself to succeed and not depend on anyone else. Whitney Houston believes that children are the future because they know how to be confident in themselves and love others, both of which are things adults could stand to learn a few things about.

Related: Build your confidence with these songs about self-love.

Imagine – John Lennon

John Lennon asks everyone to imagine a world that isn’t divided by material possessions or religion. Lennon suggests that this is possible if everyone works together, requiring world peace and equality among everyone. The song charted at number 1 in the UK and 3 in the US.

Related: Stand with others with these unity songs.

Ghost Town – The Specials

This song has a double meaning behind it. The “real” but secretive meaning is about how The Specials disbanded due to conflicts among the band members. Instead of getting publically personal about the issues, The Specials made the song about how their hometown of Coventry was thriving as an industrial town in the 1960s but lost its successful status by the 1980s.

Related: Looking for a fright? See our spooky playlist of Halloween music.

A Change is Gonna Come – Sam Cooke

While it may not seem like it at first, this song is a protest song written to support the Civil Rights Movement in the US. Cooke typically avoided songs like this, but Bob Dylan inspired him to write a powerful song that would encourage and inspire something bigger. The song charted at number 31 in the US and has been covered by many artists since its initial release.

Related: See more solid songs about changing.

Say It Loud – I’m Black and I’m Proud, Part 2 – James Brown

James Brown wrote this song during the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s after seeing black people fighting each other. He felt that the black community didn’t have enough pride, so he wrote this song to inspire everyone to be proud of themselves and lift each other up since they already had people trying to bring them down. The song charted at number 10 in the US and quickly became the civil rights anthem.

Fortunate Son – Creedence Clearwater Revival

This song takes a jab at the rich people who are more than happy to be patriotic and demand more money for their country. The song’s narrator says he’s not fortunate enough to have the money to be patriotic. The song is also an anti-war song against sending people to Vietnam. The song was released in 1970 and charted at number 14 in the US.

Related: Our playlist of songs about poverty is totally free.

Mr. Cab Driver – Lenny Kravitz

Lenny Kravitz wrote this song based on an actual event. He needed to get to the studio to record for his album, but he couldn’t hail a taxi. They kept driving passed him, and the one that did stop for him forced him out of the vehicle and fought him on top of it. Kravitz went back into his apartment and wrote this song right after.

Freedom – Beyoncé

‘Freedom’ appears on Beyoncé’s Lemonade album, which is mostly about repairing her relationship with her husband and touches on a black woman’s experiences. This song, in particular, is about how black women need to stay strong to make it through the troubles life will bring, and this strength will bring them freedom.

Related: Head over to our playlist of the best songs about freedom.

Dear Brother – Nahko and Medicine for the People

‘Dear Brother’ brings attention to the injustice people of color face in the US. The narrator tells his brother that there’s hope for a better tomorrow, but it will require more effort than making music about these circumstances. The singer also addresses his lover and references his grandmother, making this a personal song.

Related: Grab your bro and jam with these songs about brothers.

Birmingham Sunday – Joan Baez

This song is about the horrific bombing of a Baptist church on September 15, 1963, which resulted in four girls losing their lives and many others getting injured. The song talks about how these girls should’ve been safe in a church where the choir sings about freedom and salvation, yet they weren’t safe and lost their lives.

Related: Find some comfort with these songs about death.

Wake Up – Rage Against the Machine

Rage Against the Machine is trying to bring light to the evil the US allowed during the Civil Rights Movement when lives were taken for speaking out against racial inequality. The song mentions Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X, although many others lost their lives in the 1960s.

The Revolution Will Not Be Televised – Gil Scott-Heron

This song was released in 1970 when African Americans didn’t get much air time on TV. Gil Scott-Heron addresses this when he says that you won’t be able to see the revolution on TV because they won’t televise it. The song suggests that the revolution will be a “silent” fight that will require determination to make it happen since you can’t participate at home on the couch.

Related: Stand tall with these self-empowerment songs.

Born This Way – Lady Gaga

Lady Gaga calls for equality for all people in this anthem of self-love. She says that regardless of who you are or how you live your life, you deserve to be yourself and proud. The song charted at number 1 in the US and number 3 in the UK. It was released in 2011 and has remained a popular human rights song to celebrate the freedom of self-expression.

Related: Lift yourself up with our playlist of confidence songs.

Respect – Aretha Franklin

Aretha Franklin released this song in 1967, and it made it to the Top 10 in the US and UK. The song is often regarded as the feminist anthem since Franklin demands her lover give her some respect. You may find it surprising that this was first written and recorded by Otis Redding two years prior. It made it to number 35 in the US but was overshadowed by Franklin’s version.

Related: You won’t want to miss the playlist of the top classic songs of all time.

Equal Rights – Peter Tosh

Peter Tosh says everyone wants peace, but nobody wants justice in this song. He then says that there can’t be peace until everyone has equal rights. This song is hopeful that there will be justice one day and that everyone will be able to live peaceably together.

Related: Fight the power with this list of songs about fighting.

Fight The Power – Public Enemy

Public Enemy released ‘Fight the Power’ to encourage black people to stand up to injustice and be proud of who they are. The song is also intended to be controversial as it brings up Elivs and John Wayne, saying that these white heroes aren’t the heroes of the black community. The song charted at number 29 in the UK and number 1 on the US Hot Rap Singles chart.

Related: You can find this song on our playlist of songs about power and control.

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About Ged Richardson

Ged Richardson is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of ZingInstruments.com. He has been featured in Entrepreneur, PremierGuitar, Hallmark, Wanderlust, CreativeLive, and other major publications. As an avid music fan, he spends his time researching and writing about new and old music, as well as testing and reviewing music-related products. He's played guitar in various bands, from rock to gypsy jazz. Be sure to check out his YouTube channel, where he geeks out about his favorite bands.

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