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With her Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction, Queen of Folk Joan Baez sees the opportunity for activism

Though I can’t wrap my head around why it took so long, Joan Baez was finally inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Friday. The Queen of Folk has led a nearly 60-year career in the industry. Despite not having written a song in about 25 years, she has taken advantage of this recent wave of publicity to voice her opinion on the world’s current affairs.

Baez has always had a keenness for activism, as she got her start during the ‘60s protest-music era. Now she has broken her lull in songwriting to return to her roots in the form of a Donald Trump protest. She posted a video on her Facebook page last Tuesday of herself sitting on a couch, playing guitar and singing her latest song about our president

This is not her first participation in this new era of protest, though. Last year, she performed at Standing Rock as part of the protest against the Dakota Access Pipeline. In January, she played at two different Women’s Marches in the same day, and is currently planning a show for the benefit of illegal immigrants.

The result of the 2016 Election seems to have created an era tailor-made for someone like Baez. In the aforementioned song, she effortlessly rolls out five whole verses bashing Trump, even suggesting he has “some serious psychological disorders.” The singer has expressed gratitude for the chaotic presidency, though, because it gives her something to create a stir about.

At 76 years old, she was beginning to join her fellow ‘60s superstars in a general air of otherworldly respect and holiness, which doesn’t really suit her style. She told Rolling Stone, “I’m not agitating enough people. When I got respectable, I got creeped out.”

It’s cool to see a career that defies time and expectations to the degree that Baez’s has. Starting out in the ‘60s, her success as a woman in rock — specifically folk — seemed unlikely as ever, yet she remained a worthy counterpart to fellow folk-rock stars like Bob Dylan and Jackson Browne, who inducted Baez into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. She became one of the most valuable voices of the anti-war and general social justice movements of the ‘60s, and has re-established that credibility in the present era, most notably in her speech at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony last week.

Her discovery of folk music at a young age led her to find her self-proclaimed purpose in life, which is to speak out and fight against the world’s many injustices. “What has given my life deep meaning, and unending pleasure, has been to use my voice in the battle against injustice,” said Baez in her moving speech, “and now, in the new political and cultural reality in which we find ourselves, there is much work to be done.”

We can assume Baez will be an active participant in getting this work done for the rest of her days. She is deeply empathetic and tries to understand the struggles of individuals from every walk of life. She has fought so hard, and for so many years, that she has definite authority on how progress can be achieved. Each era has its handful of revolutionaries, but Baez defies the confines of any specific era. She is a fighter for everyone, for all time.

“Let us together repeal and replace brutality, and make compassion a priority,” Baez said in her induction speech. “Together let us build a great bridge, a beautiful bridge to once again welcome the tired and the poor, and we will pay for that bridge with our commitment. We the people must speak truth to power, and be ready to make sacrifices. We the people are the only one who can create change. I am ready. I hope you are, too.”

Jenny Bourque is a freshman English and textual studies major. Her column appears weekly in Pulp. You can email her at jabourqu@syr.edu.

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