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Can Crowds Celebrate As A Form Of Protest?

Filed by KOSU News in Art & Life.
May 18, 2012

Part 2 of the TED Radio Hour episode The Power Of Crowds.

When Anders Behring Breivik admitted to killing 77 people in Norway in 2011, he claimed that a children’s song was “brainwashing” the country’s youth. The song, “Barn av Regnbuen,” is an adaptation of Pete Seeger’s “My Rainbow Race.” It means “Children of the Rainbow,” and Norwegians have been singing it for decades.

Graduate student Lill Hjonnevag didn’t accept Breivik’s claim. “I felt that he had spoiled the song,” she said. “I wanted to take it back.”

Hjonnevag got on Facebook with an idea: to get a crowd of people together in a central square in Oslo and sing “Barn av Regnbuen” together. She gave herself a week to organize and hoped that by then she’d get 100 people to RSVP on the Facebook page. It wasn’t long before thousands had pledged to go. With the help of union organizer Christine Bar, Hjonnevag even reached out to Lillebjorn Nilson, the singer who adapted Seeger’s original song.

Hjonnevag and Bar frantically planned for an event police estimated could draw as many as 10,000 people. They underestimated. On April 26, 2012, 40,000 people came together in song. [Copyright 2012 National Public Radio]

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