“No Place for a UT Professor” read the very first editorial written by Lee Anderson in the Chattanooga News-Free Press on April 22, 1958. In addition to publicly chastising my father, Francis Manis, who in 1952 founded the Knoxville branch of the University of Tennessee’s then—School (now—College) of Social Work, it called upon the university to fire him for his involvement with Highlander Folk School and its “integration propaganda.”

54 years later, in 2012, I wrote the lyrics to a song, titled “Righting A Wrong (Writing A Wrong),” targeting Anderson’s bigotry at the time.

Since it appears, in my opinion, that bigots are not easily distinguishable, that song evolved, through changing fewer than 10 words, into “Righting A Wrong (Ivanka’s Song)” which has pertinence to the Nov. 3 presidential election and is referenced in my Lyrical Op-Ed published on Oct. 16 in The Tennessean.

Further, my website, www.rightingawrongproductions.com, details not only how the song came into being, but the importance of Highlander in the Civil Rights Movement and its connection to the song which also evolved, primarily through a collaboration between Zilphia Horton (wife of Highlander’s co-founder, Myles Horton) and Pete Seeger, into the Civil Rights anthem “We Shall Overcome.”

Original "Righting A Wrong (Writing A Wrong)" Lyrics

I spent my childhood stretching skyward

Chasing falling leaves

Lookin’-up-ta-my father standing

As tall as the trees

Forever there to show me the way

Like a beacon bright

He was the one who taught me

Wrong from right

Out of the deep dark shone his steady light

As pure and bright as the snow is white

My Daddy, to me, stood tall, so tall

From day to night

He couldn’t be other than

My shining light!

‘Cause he was the one who taught me

Wrong from right

Not just the Anderson Clan,

Everyone would see

The ‘whole’ Community knew

He was there for me

If character is what is done

When no one’s around

What do I do when the whole world

Sees what I found?

Daddy dun taught me

Wrong from right

But the wrong he taught me wasn’t right

Daddy dun taught me

Wrong from right

But the wrong he taught me wasn’t right

As times change, sometimes people don’t

To the grave they go…

Missing what others won’t

Daddy dun taught me

Wrong from right

But the wrong he taught me wasn’t right

Writing a wrong in ‘58

Living a life of undone hate

Prejudice riding ‘til the Pearly Gates

Righting a wrong

Which should not wait

Daddy dun taught me

Wrong from right

But the wrong he taught me wasn’t right

Daddy dun taught me

Wrong from right

But the wrong he taught me wasn’t right

I spent my childhood stretching skyward

Chasing falling leaves

Lookin’-up-ta my father standing

As tall as the trees

But now I know that Man is linked

From shore to shore

For Man is colored with character

Forevermore.

Lyrics:

Steve Manis

Arranged lyrics:

Mathieu Serradell

Music:

Mathieu Serradell

Property of…Righting A Wrong Productions

© 2012

Steve Manis is the son of Francis Manis, who in 1952 founded what was then known as UT’s School of Social Work. He can be reached at steve@rightingawrongproductions.com.

You can read Manis’ 2008 Op-Ed in The Daily Beacon here. You can view the song on YouTube here and on TikTok @rightingawrong.

Editor’s Note: The reference in each song to ‘beacon’ is an intended tip-of-the-hat to The Daily Beacon.

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