Bernice Johnson Reagon

“The voice I have now, I got the first time I sang in a movement meeting, after I got out of jail… and I’d never heard it before in my life.”

“There is nowhere you can go and only be with people who are like you. Give it up.”

“Looking back to 1968, I can see that when I first tried to draw the human family together, I wrote lyrics naming people by physical traits – humbling to look back at yourself…”

Dr. Bernice Johnson Reagon (born October 4, 1942)

Singer, composer, scholar, and social activist, who founded the a cappella ensemble Sweet Honey in the Rock in 1973.

Room in the Circle

Black people taken from an ancient land
Suffered trials by cruel White hands
ln this circle, theres gotta be room for them,
Move on over, make more (a little) roam for them
There’ll be trouble if there’s no room for them…

Vietnamese with slanted eyes
Fighting for their land, not standing by
They can’t make it if there’s no room for them.
Move on over, make more (a little) room for them
It won’t hurt you if there’s more room for them…

Little brown boy with straight black hair
In India’s land there’s no food there
He can’t make it ‘cause there’s no room for him.
Move on over, make more (a little) room for them
There’ll be trouble if there’s no room for him…

Seneca, Black Hawk, Cherokee
Choctaw, Cheyenne, Sioux, Pawnee
They can’t make it if there’s no room for them.
Move on over, make a little room for them
It won’t hurt you to make a little room for them.
Way overdue now, there’s gotta be room for them…

White man, we know you don’t know how
To save the circle, let me tell you how:
Loose your hold, there’s gotta be room for all.

The circle will break, man, if there’s not room for all.

Move on over, make a little room for all
In this circle, there`s gotta be room for all.

Save the circle, make more room for all
In this circle, there`s gotta be room for all.

[1968]
Words and music by Bernice Johnson Reagon. Album “Give Your Hands to Struggle”, Paredon Records.

 

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