James Brown: Say it loud
I'M BLACK AND PROUD!
Brown's main social activism was in preserving the need for education among youths, influenced by his own troubled childhood and his being forced to drop out of the seventh grade for wearing "insufficient clothes". Due to heavy dropout rates in the 1960s, Brown released the pro-education song, "Don't Be a Drop Out". Royalties of the song were donated to dropout-prevention charity programs. The success of this led to Brown meeting with President Lyndon B Johnson at the White House. Johnson cited Brown for being a positive role model to the youth. A lifelong Republican, Brown gained the confidence of President Richard Nixon, to whom he found he had to explain the plight of Black Americans.
Throughout the remainder of his life, Brown made public speeches in schools and continued to advocate the importance of education in school. Upon filing his will in 2002, Brown advised that most of the money in his estate go into creating the I Feel Good, Inc. Trust to benefit disadvantaged children and provide scholarships for his grandchildren. His final single, "Killing Is Out, School Is In", advocated against murders of young children in the streets. Brown often gave out money and other items to children while traveling to his childhood hometown of Augusta. A week before his death, while looking gravely ill, Brown gave out toys and turkeys to kids at an Atlanta orphanage, something he had done several times over the years.
Though Brown performed at benefit rallies for civil rights organizations in the mid-1960s, Brown often shied away from discussing civil rights in his songs in fear of alienating his crossover audience. In 1968, in response to a growing urge of anti-war advocacy during the Vietnam War, Brown recorded the song, "America Is My Home". In the song, Brown performed a rap, advocating patriotism and exhorting listeners to "stop pitying yoursel[ves] and get up and fight". At the time of the song's release, Brown had been participating in performing for troops stationed in Vietnam.