Activist Songbook

Songs to Counteract Hate
for soloists, groups, rallies, sit-ins, boycotts, marches, and more

In Development
Activist Songbook is a collection of 53 songs and raps to counteract hate. The material is based on interviews of Asian American, immigrant and refugee organizers. The project began in Philadelphia and continues in different cities with interviews, workshops and performances through the next U.S. Presidential Election on November 3, 2020.

November 17, 2019 
October 19, 2019
Activist Songbook Workshops
International Festival of Arts & Ideas · New Haven

November 11, 2018
Music of Asian America Workshop: Activist Songbook
Philadelphia Asian American Film Festival
Institute of Contemporary Art · Philadelphia

July 20, 2018
We the People · Montalvo Arts Center

May 3-5, 2018
Asian Arts Initiative · Philadelphia

53 Songs and Raps
Duration variable

Why 53?
  •  52 cards in a deck + 1 joker with orange hair
  •  52 weeks in a year + 1 week into the next year
  •  53 is a prime number

In Activist Songbook, composer Byron Au Yong and lyricist Aaron Jafferis explore how civil rights organizing and music intersect to inspire action and sustain the fight towards equity.

Activist Songbook is a process-oriented work that begins with interviews of community organizers. Working with those interviewed, Au Yong and Jafferis will create material for a Songbook to gather individuals and collectives to energize efforts towards counteracting racism and hate crimes.

Living between oppression and imagination, Activist Songbook calls for justice through live performances, informational scores, and instructional recordings that honor the legacy of Asian American, immigrant and refugee activism as a springboard for future organizing.

The project will result in a collection of 53 songs and raps prompted by the beating and murder of Vincent Chin in 1982, as well as the resulting national organizing towards justice. Activist Songbook launched as part of Asian Arts Initiative's 25th Anniversary in May 2018, with a Know Your Rights rap, four rally songs taught on buses and other material.

Peter Crimmins. Asian Arts Initiative celebrates past 25 years. WHYY NewsWorks
Dan DeLuca. Asian Arts Initiative's Activist Songbook. The Philadelphia Inquirer
Imani Roach. Byron Au Yong and Aaron Jafferis write useful protest music. Artblog

  • Created as part of (ex)CHANGE: History Place Presence, a project of Asian Arts Initiative,
  • Original support for (ex)CHANGE: History Place Presence was provided by The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage, Philadelphia
  • Montalvo Arts Center
  • Contact to Join Us
Sample Rally Songs (Sheet Music)