In the mid-'60s, Curtis Mayfield wrote the seminal Impressions songs "People Get Ready
" and "Keep On Pushing
," which were a call to have faith and stick out the hard times. While not overtly so, they related to the civil rights movement and gave encouragement to those who fought for equality.
By the time he wrote "This Is My Country," the civil rights movement had grown but also fractured, with some groups encouraging violence. In the song, Mayfield asks that we honor the struggle of those who came before, and not give up on America. It's a vision instilled in him from church, and one that was practiced by Martin Luther King, Jr., who was a big influence on Mayfield.