The Revolution Will Not Be Televised

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"The Revolution Will Not Be Televised"
Gill Scott Heron- The Revolution Will Not Be Televised- RCA (Flying Dutchman) 1971.jpg
Single by Gil Scott-Heron
from the album Pieces of a Man
A-side"Home Is Where the Hatred Is"
LabelFlying Dutchman
Songwriter(s)Gil Scott-Heron
Producer(s)Bob Thiele
Gil Scott-Heron singles chronology
"The Revolution Will Not Be Televised"
"The Bottle"
Audio sample
"The Revolution Will Not Be Televised"

"The Revolution Will Not Be Televised" is a poem and song by Gil Scott-Heron. Scott-Heron first recorded it for his 1970 album Small Talk at 125th and Lenox, on which he recited the lyrics, accompanied by congas and bongo drums. A re-recorded version, with a full band, was the B-side to Scott-Heron's first single, "Home Is Where the Hatred Is", from his album Pieces of a Man (1971). It was also included on his compilation album, The Revolution Will Not Be Televised (1974). All these releases were issued on the Flying Dutchman Productions record label.

The song's title was originally a popular slogan among the 1960s Black Power movements in the United States.[1] Its lyrics either mention or allude to several television series, advertising slogans and icons of entertainment and news coverage that serve as examples of what "the revolution will not" be or do. The song is a response to the spoken-word piece "When the Revolution Comes" by The Last Poets, from their eponymous debut, which opens with the line "When the revolution comes some of us will probably catch it on TV".[2]

It was inducted to the National Recording Registry in 2005.[3]

Cultural references in the poem[edit]

In popular culture[edit]

  • The Sarah Jones song "Your Revolution," a feminist interpretation of the song criticizing misogyny in mainstream hip hop, with the key line "Your revolution will not happen between these thighs". A radio station that played the song was fined by the FCC.[11]
  • In 1995, Nike released a basketball interpretation of the poem narrated by KRS-One accompanied by a similar bass & flute instrumental in a commercial featuring Jason Kidd, Jim Jackson, Eddie Jones, Joe Smith, & Kevin Garnett as the revolutionary leaders wearing Nike sneakers while playing basketball, concluding with KRS-One narrating, "The Revolution is about basketball, and basketball is the truth.[12]
  • The opening line of "Welcome to the World of the Plastic Beach", performed by Snoop Dogg on the Gorillaz album Plastic Beach, is "The revolution will be televised".[13]
  • In 2010, New Statesman magazine listed it as one of the "Top 20 Political Songs".[14]
  • In 2011, after Scott-Heron's death, Lupe Fiasco released a poem dedicated to him titled "The Television Will Not Be Revolutionized".[15][16]
  • In June 2013, a sign quoting the poem's title (in Greek) was posted on a window inside the Greek state broadcaster ERT as employees resisted its closure by the government under pressure from the troika of the EU, ECB and the IMF to cut public spending under their austerity regime.[17]
  • Released in September 2013, South Korean entertainer G-Dragon's "Coup d'Etat" contains a vocal sample of "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised".[18][19][20]
  • The song "Countdown to Armageddon", performed by Public Enemy, contains the lyric "This time around, the revolution will not be televised".[21]
  • The song "Wu-Revolution" by the Wu-Tang Clan contains background lyrics "The revolution will be televised." and "The revolution should be televised." as a variation on Scott-Heron's message.[22]
  • The song "6 Summers" by Anderson Paak states "The revolution will not be televised/ But it will be streamed live/ In 1080p on your pea-brain head in the face ass mobile device/ Alright?"[23]
  • The teaser trailer for Summer of Soul (...Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised) features the song.[24]
  • During the 2020-21 United States racial unrest, the phrase "The Manny Will Not Be Televised" referenced both the song and the Diary of a Wimpy Kid character Manny Heffley, since many of the protestors grew up reading the series.[25]


  1. ^ Hamilton, Charles V.; Ture, Kwame (1967). Black Power: The Politics of Liberation in America. New York City: Random House. ISBN 0679743138.
  2. ^ Al Nasir, Abdul Malik (June 6, 2018). "Jalal Mansur Nuriddin: farewell to the 'grandfather of rap'". The Guardian. Retrieved June 21, 2018.
  3. ^ "The National Recording Registry 2005". The Library of Congress. October 25, 2006. Retrieved February 9, 2007.
  4. ^ Mansnerus, Laura (June 1, 1996). "Timothy Leary, Pied Piper Of Psychedelic 60's, Dies at 75". The New York Times. Retrieved October 2, 2009.
  5. ^ Green, Jonathon (2005). Cassell's Dictionary of Slang. Sterling Publishing. p. 1232. ISBN 978-0-304-36636-1.
  6. ^ Dex (May 31, 2005). "Why are the police called cops, pigs, or the fuzz?". The Straight Dope. Archived from the original on April 15, 2012. Retrieved April 24, 2012.
  7. ^ Marconi, Joe (1999). The Brand Marketing Book. McGraw-Hill Professional. pp. 108–9. ISBN 0-8442-2257-7.
  8. ^ Mahon, Maureen (2020). Black Diamond Queens: African American Women and Rock and Roll. Duke University Press. p. 118. ISBN 978-1-4780-1277-1.
  9. ^ Eagle Poetry
  10. ^ The Revolution Will Not Be Televised by Gil Scott-Heron-Topic on YouTube
  11. ^ Lee, Chisum (June 19, 2001). "Counter 'Revolution'". The Village Voice. Retrieved October 2, 2009.
  12. ^
  13. ^ "Review: Gorillaz, Plastic Beach". The Quietus. March 5, 2010. Retrieved June 14, 2012.
  14. ^ Smith, Ian (March 25, 2010). "Top 20 Political Songs: The Revolution Will Not Be Televised". New Statesman. Retrieved March 25, 2010.
  15. ^ Shetler, Scott (June 2, 2011). "Lupe Fiasco Pays Tribute to Gil Scott-Heron in Original Composition". PopCrush.
  16. ^ Horowitz, Steven (May 31, 2011). "Lupe Fiasco Pens A Tribute To Gil Scott-Heron". HipHopDX.
  17. ^ Wearden, Graeme (June 12, 2013). "Greece's state broadcaster defies government closure; RBS boss in shock resignation - as it happened". The Guardian. London, England: Guardian Media Group. Retrieved November 21, 2013.
  18. ^ "[Album Review] G-Dragon 'Coup De'Tat'". Allkpop. 6Theory Media. September 14, 2013. Retrieved September 19, 2013.
  19. ^ "Coup D'etat, Pt. 1". Allmusic. Retrieved November 22, 2013.
  20. ^ Kenner, Rob (September 9, 2013). "G-Dragon Covers Complex's "Coup d'Etat" Week!". Complex Magazine. Retrieved November 22, 2013.
  21. ^ Anderson, Reynaldo; Jones, Charles E. (2015). Afrofuturism 2.0: The Rise of Astro-Blackness. Lexington Books. p. 69. ISBN 978-1-4985-1051-6.
  22. ^ Opsahl, Carl Petter (2016). Dance To My Ministry: Exploring Hip-Hop Spirituality. Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht. ISBN 978-3-647-60454-1.
  23. ^ Bruner, Raisa (November 16, 2018). "5 Songs You Need to Listen to This Week". Time. Retrieved June 21, 2020.
  24. ^ "Summer of Soul Teaser Trailer (2021)". Movieclips Indie. YouTube. April 25, 2021. Retrieved April 26, 2021.
  25. ^ Shah, Easheta (July 29, 2020). "OK Boomer, hear The Manny out". The Michigan Daily.

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