Our Legacy

The 1960’s were a tumultuous time, dominated by division over issues such as the war in Vietnam, and the fight for civil rights. Up with People founder J. Blanton Belk saw “the ability of young people to do what governments had failed to do: to walk across borders, see beyond race, and build bridges of understanding between people.” He wanted to harness the energy of the youth movement and turn the negativism of the era into a chance for young people to have a voice in creating positive change.

When Up with People was born in 1965 – formed out of a summer youth conference – our early leaders discovered the power of music for bringing together people of different mindsets, cultures, ethnicities, and beliefs. Up with People took to the streets and soon became a global music and education phenomena, inspiring communities with a message of peace and unity. Over time, Up with People grew to be known worldwide for bridging cultural gaps and participating in international relations and education.

As we look at the fast-paced world we live in today, Up with People is as relevant and needed as it was in the 1960’s. Our unique blend of music and social action creates the chance for youth to develop a new understanding of the world, recognize the responsibility they have to others, and become global citizens by acting as positive agents of change.

We are proud to share these key moments in our history. They prove by acting from a place of hope and optimism, we can unite countries, cultures, and communities, and join forces in making the world a more hopeful, peaceful and trusting place.

Images from Up with People Archive (MS 491), courtesy of University of Arizona Libraries, Special Collections
©Up with People

The Archives

Up with People’s rich and expansive history is captured in an archive housed at the University of Arizona Libraries, Special Collections. The collection contains a range of materials from photographs and print publications, to scores, musical arrangements, and programs from 1965-1999. Learn More

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