Music has long been a force that encourages, inspires and brings people together for political causes and social justice. On Nov. 5, Vern Bloom and Maria Brown will bring their banjo and guitar and stories of the music of social activism to the Minnesota History Center in the new “Sounds Good to Me: Music in Minnesota” exhibit gallery at 1:30, 2:30 and 3:30 p.m.

From union organizing and women’s fight for equality to the civil rights and peace movements of the 1960s and ’70s, a wide variety of social justice movements have used music to rally the public. Making music together has sustained energy, raised spirits and served as an antidote to discouragement, frustration and fear. Frequently, traditional songs have served a variety of different movements, such as the well-known “We Shall Overcome,” which went from representing labor strikers to become the anthem of the civil rights movement.

Visitors at the three performances will be invited to join in the singing and share their own stories of political and social involvement.

Bloom and Brown are both professors of social work at Augsburg College in Minneapolis. They frequently bring music into their classrooms to help students understand the connection between music and social justice. They also have performed for AmeriCorps youth training programs, and at settlement houses, professional conferences and for groups of retired persons through Augsburg’s College of the Third Age.

The performances are part of an on-going series of events that will take place on the “Sounds Good To Me” stage over the course of the exhibit’s five-year run. The program coincides with a related History HiJinxactivity, “Posters and Passions,” in which children and families can see samples of political posters from the Minnesota Historical Society’s collections, then create their own political statements. The free drop-in activity is from 1 to 4 p.m.

The History Center is located at 345 Kellogg Blvd. W. in St. Paul. Admission to the building, exhibits and these performances is free. Auxiliary aids and services are available with advance notice. For more information, call 651/296-6126, 1-800-657-3773, or TTY 651/282-6073. The Society’s calendar of events is posted on the Internet at

The Minnesota Historical Society is a non-profit educational and cultural institution established in 1849 to preserve and share Minnesota history. The Society collects, preserves and tells the story of Minnesota’s past through museum exhibits, extensive libraries and collections, historic sites, educational programs and book publishing.