Sharp Notes Monday: ‘John Sinclair’

While our Sharp Notes, Sharp Thoughts music and social media project is on hiatus for the summer, we are sharing a song every Monday to start your week.

Brittany Griner (Photo by Lorie Shaull via Wikimedia Commons)

Long before a Russian court sentenced WNBA star Brittney Griner to nine years in prison for having cartridges containing hashish oil in her luggage, a harsh drug sentence imposed on a political activist sparked outrage in the U.S.

In 1969, John Sinclair, manager of the MC5, was sentenced to a 10-year prison term after he offered two marijuana joints to an undercover narcotics officer.

Stevie Wonder, Phil Ochs, Bob Seger, Allen Ginsberg, Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin were among those who rallied in support of Sinclair. John Lennon and Yoko Ono also took part in the protests. Lennon wrote a song named “John Sinclair” in which he decried the severity of the sentence with lyrics that included “It ain’t fair John Sinclair,” “They gave him ten for two” and a refrain of “Got to set him free.”

Sinclair was released in 1971 after the Michigan Supreme Court declared the state’s marijuana statutes unconstitutional. As for Griner, her future remains uncertain while U.S. authorities negotiate for her release.

Click below to hear “John Sinclair” from John and Yoko’s “Sometime in New York City” album, which also included songs about Attica State Prison, Angela Davis and other highly charged political topics and personalities.

Click here to learn more about our Sharp Notes, Sharp Thoughts music and social media project and view videos of our presentations.

Categories: Jandoli Institute, Music and Social Justice, Politics, Pop Culture, Sharp Notes Sharp Thoughts


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