Drawing on Pete Seeger’s song archive and an extensive oral history the author conducted with John Handcox of the Southern Tenant Farmers’ Union, this article draws attention to the power of songs and oral poetry as forms of oral history that provide “a way in” to our “emotional history” and that help us to better understand labor and civil rights struggles in the American South. Using examples from the life story of Handcox, the author asks: how can oral historians expand knowledge of the emotional past through the power of songs and oral poetry?