Nina Simone's Protest Song "Mississippi Goddamn" Debuted in 1964

Nina Simone's first civil rights song was the result of an unbelievably heartbreaking tragedy where four girls were killed at the African-American 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama on September 15, 1963 after white supremacists planted more than a dozen sticks of dynamite beneath the side steps of the church. Simone recalls this tragedy and the June 12, 1963 murder of activist Medgar Evers where he was gunned down in his driveway carrying shirts that read "Jim Crow Must Go" as the final two pieces of a jigsaw puzzle that helped her see what it was to be Black in America in 1963.
After learning of the church bombing that killed the four young girls, Simone was filled with rage and fury, wanting to take to the streets and take matters into her own hands she was quickly redirected by her husband and manager Andy who asked her to do what she did best, music. The result was "Mississippi Goddamn," a song that would go on to become one of her most famous compositions.
On writing "Mississippi Goddamn," Simone said in her autobiography, I Put A Spell On You:
"How can you take the memory of a man like Medgar Evers and reduce all that he was to three and a half minutes and a simple tune? That was the musical side of it I shied away from; I didn’t like ‘protest music’ because a lot of it was so simple and unimaginative it stripped the dignity away from the people it was trying to celebrate. But the Alabama church bombing and the murder of Medgar Evers stopped that argument and with ‘Mississippi Goddam,’ I realized there was no turning back.”
According to our data, Nina Simone first performed "Mississippi Goddamn" on March 21, 1964 at Carnegie Hall in New York. The setlist featured seven songs in all, opening with the George Gershwin cover of "I Loves You, Porgy" and closing with "Mississippi Goddamn."
Check out the full setlist from the March 21, 1964 show below.
Nina Simone - New York, New York - March 21, 1964 - setlist
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