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stay woke

First used by Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Inductee, Huddie “Lead Belly” Ledbetter in a 1938 interview afterword of his song Scottsboro Boys-named for nine Black teenagers and young men falsely accused of raping two white women in Alabama in 1931. Lead Belly knew the Scottsboro boys, and urged Black listeners and Black persons traveling through that area in Alabama to "Stay Woke" (be vigilant, cautious, and alert) in the spoken afterword to the song. Lead Belly's direct relative, Global Activist and Equality Advocate Greshun De Bouse began the #STAYWOKELEADBELLY movement to acknowledge the phrase's origin, and redefine its present-day meaning as a more generalized, all-inclusive phrase admonishing all to be cognizant of past, present, and future world occurrences.

“I advise everybody be a little careful when they go along through there — best stay woke, keep their eyes open. If you’re Black and you’re going through Alabama, you best stay woke.”-Leadbelly, 1938.

Submitted by preditor on December 24, 2023

Modified by preditor on January 27, 2024


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    "stay woke." Phrases.com. STANDS4 LLC, 2024. Web. 29 May 2024. <https://www.phrases.com/phrase/stay-woke_64091>.

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