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Teaching Tolerance

I Will Be Your Friend: Songs and Activities for Young Peacemakers

I Will Be Your Friend is a sound recording produced by Larry Long through Teaching Tolerance of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Over 200,000 kits were given out free to elementary schools and teachers, religious and community centers and other organizations serving children in the younger grades.

From its opening rap on respect to its closing anthem to freedom, this groundbreaking anthology for the elementary grades offered a fresh take on America's quest for unity and harmony.

Invite your students to sing along on a musical journey through Native American chant, African American poetry, songs of friendship and belonging from immigrant communities across the U.S., and classics from our nation's proud tradition of singing for social change.

In addition to the CD, the 100-page I Will Be Your Friend activity songbook includes:

  • melody and chord notation, guitar fingering and complete lyrics to all 26 songs
  • full choral score for the anthem, Freedom, Oh Freedom, featured on the CD biographies of songwriters and featured performers
  • information about the origin of each song
  • flexible classroom activities on the themes of Honoring Traditions; Love and Friendship; Building Community; and Struggles for Justice
  • resource guide to musical activism

Teaching Tolerance Through Song By Larry Long

The following is reprinted from the introduction to the new Teaching Tolerance CD I Will Be Your Friend: Songs and Activities for Young Peacemakers.

As Walter Frederick Browder of Gaylesville, Alabama, told a group of students I worked with in the Elder's Wisdom, Children's Song™ project a few years back, "It's important to get an education—not so much to make a living, but to make a life." And how can anyone imagine life without song?

Our process in compiling I Will Be Your Friend began with collecting nearly 3,000 songs from cultural traditions and individual songwriters across the United States. Over a period of months, my friends at Teaching Tolerance and I whittled them down to the 26 that make up this collection.

Our goal was to honor the diversity we find here at home—not so much by including songs about diversity, but by ranging as far and wide as possible in musical styles and sources. The resulting collection encompasses rap, folk, jazz, gospel, show tunes, spoken word and traditional song.

We included learnable, singable songs in languages from numerous immigrant communities, as well as several of the indigenous languages spoken in North America today. There are songs of welcome, friendship, caring and courage and many other dimensions of life in community.

We were pleased to secure original recordings by Pete Seeger, Malvina Reynolds, Louis Armstrong, Langston Hughes and Rodgers and Hammerstein. We included these selections not only because they have stood the test of time, but also because
they give a historical perspective to teaching tolerance through song.

We were equally enthusiastic about including several artists who are not only great performers but teachers and community organizers, as well. Numerous community musicians assisted us in the recording of this album. Reflecting all their efforts, the final product celebrates the diversity of our nation and world.

It is my hope that I Will Be Your Friend will encourage students, teachers and parents to sing together, laugh together and write music together in order to help build a more joyous community.

News & Events

Cashton, WI - 8th Grade Leadership will host a Cashton Community Celebration in honor of Mrs. Marian Sullivan Schwarz’s 104th Birthday at the Cashton Community Hall on Wednesday, October 18, 2017, 5:00 PM - 9:00 PM.  

Community Celebration of Place is partnering with Little Free Library on Saturday, May 21, in Minneapolis, Minnesota for the first-ever Little Free Library Festival.

Join highly acclaimed author Kent Nerburn and Larry Long, Executive Director of Community Celebration of Palce for an evening of songs, stories and music.

Save Our History!

During 2017-2018, it is a primary program of Community Celebration of Place to transfer their collection into archives that will be open to the public for generations to come

We can not do this work without you.


My heartfelt thanks to Larry Long and all the voices from which our history continues to generate encouragement, enthusiasm and wisdom.

Arlo Guthrie, Songwriter, Son of Woody Guthrie

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