The true author of this song is unknown, as befits an authentic folk song that is adapted over time. It is somewhat based on an African-American gospel hymn, “I’ll Overcome Someday,” although this is disputed. It was Pete Seeger who popularized this most well-known of civil rights tunes in the late 1940s. Martin Luther King referred to the song days before his death.
Since then, the inspiring, yet general message – a promise of deliverance from tough times – has been sung for many causes. It is a comforting folk anthem that will forever bring hope to all those oppressed.