Si Kahn

Si Kahn


Si Kahn has worked for over 40 years as a civil rights, labor and community organizer and musician in the Southern United States. His songs have been recorded by over 100 artists.


Si has released 14 albums of his original songs, plus a collection of traditional labor, civil rights and women's songs with Pete Seeger and Jane Sapp. Si's release is Been A Long Time on Sliced Bread featuring Laurie Lewis & Friends. ( His 14th CD, We?re Still Here was recorded on tour in the Netherlands, and released in celebration of Si?s 60th birthday in April 2004. Dick Gaughan, Robin and Linda Williams, June Tabor and the Oyster Band, Patrick Street, Laurie Lewis and Grant Street, Dolores Keane and Planxty are a partial list of outstanding artists who have covered Kahn?s songs.

Si performs regularly at concerts and festivals throughout North America and Europe. He is a member of Local 1000 of the American Federation of Musicians, AFL-CIO; a trustee of the Labor Heritage Foundation; and the official poet laureate of the North Carolina labor movement by unanimous vote of the convention in 1986.

Si is the executive director of Grassroots Leadership, now in its 25th year. The Charlotte, North Carolina based tax-exempt organization is a multi-racial team of activists who do civil rights, labor and community organizing across the South. He also serves as campaign director for the Public Safety and Justice Campaign, a Southern, national and international campaign to abolish for-profit private prisons. The mission statement for the campaign reads:

"For-profit private prisons, jails and detention centers have no place in a democratic society. Profiteering from the imprisonment of human beings compromises public safety and corrupts justice. In the spirit of democracy and accountability, we call for an end to all incarceration for profit."

Kahn's lecture "Blood from Stone: Private Prisons and the Corruption of Justice" chronicles private prison abuses and the international movement to abolish them.

Si began his organizing career in 1965 in Arkansas with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, more popularly known as SNCC, the student wing of the Southern Civil Rights Movement. During the 1970s, he worked with the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) during the Brookside Strike in Harlan County, Kentucky. He was an Area Director of the J.P. Stevens Campaign for the Amalgamated Clothing and Textile Workers Union (ACTWU), now part of the Union of Needletrades, Industrial and Textile Employees (UNITE). He founded Grassroots Leadership in 1980 and has served as its executive director since.

Si has written two basic organizing handbooks, How People Get Power and Organizing: A Guide for Grassroots Leaders, both published by the National Association of Social Workers Press. He is the founder and a continuing board member of the Jewish Fund for Justice, a national Jewish foundation that supports local community organizing projects which deal with the root causes of poverty. Si is married to the feminist philosopher Elizabeth Kamarck Minnich. They have three adult children: Simon, Jesse and Gabriel. Gabe carries on the family musical tradition as a member of the hip-hop band Granola Funk Express. (Gabe's website can be found at:

Si Kahn is also an accomplished author and musician who incorporates his passion for people?s rights into his songwriting performances and lectures.


When The War is Done

Written By: Words and music by Si Khan

When the War is Done
By Si Kahn
with Scott Ainslie

Scott Si

So many times in history
We’ve watched them march away
Some cry out for victory
Some just stand and pray
For this father’s daughter
For this mother’s son
What will happen to the rest of us
When the war is done

What will happen to the rest of us
When the war is over
What will happen to the rest of us
When the war is done

Some are quick to honor
Some are quick to blame
Few can face the truth
That this all happens in our name
Before the first shot’s fired
Our battle has begun
What will happen to the rest of us
When the war is done

Those who fight the battles
Are not those who make the laws
But bravery is still bravery
Even in an unjust cause
From the hand that signs the order
To the hand that fires the gun
What will happen to the rest of us
When the war is done

Some lie solitary
Beneath a hero’s stone
Some return to loved ones
But will always be alone
Something sacred will be lost
Even when the war is won
What will happen to the rest of us
When the war is done

Words and music by Si Kahn. Songs were recorded and mixed by Chris Garges


Si Kahn has recoreded on Flying Fish, Rounder, Appleseed, Sliced Bread, Double Time Music and Strictly Country Music. A cross section of issues are We're Still Here, Threads,Been A Long Time In My Hear, Godtimes and Bedtimes, and I Have Seen Freedom.