Poetry written by an American folk singer details how he believed his landlord profited from racial hatred.
Woody Guthrie is an American singer-songwriter who is best known for his song ‘This Land is Your Land’. Back in the mid 20th century, Guthrie was living in an apartment complex in Brooklyn owned by Fred C. Trump, the father of the 45th POTUS.
Will Kaufmann, professor of American literature and culture at the University of Central Lancashire, uncovered writings while working on book research at the Woody Guthrie Center’s archives in Oklahoma. He realised Guthrie’s dislike of “Old Man Trump”, in Guthrie’s writings that explained how people of colour were not welcome as tenants in the Trump apartment complex, near Coney Island.
“He thought that Fred Trump was one who stirs up racial hate, and implicitly profits from it,” Kaufman explained.
According to Kaufman’s research, soon after Guthrie signed the lease at Trump’s Beach Haven apartment complex, he was “lamenting the bigotry that pervaded his new, lily-white neighbourhood,” through poetry and song.
Old Man Trump knows
Just how much
he stirred up
In the bloodpot of human hearts
When he drawed
That color line
Here at his
Eighteen hundred family project
Kaufman also remarked how Guthrie decided to rework his song “I Ain’t Got No Home” into a critique of Fred Trump:
Beach Haven ain’t my home!
I just can’t pay this rent!
My money’s down the drain!
And my soul is badly bent!
Beach Haven looks like heaven
Where no black ones come to roam!
No, no, no! Old Man Trump!
Old Beach Haven ain’t my home!
Woody Guthrie died in 1967 which means he never saw the Justice Department sue the Trumps in the 1970s for discriminating against black people. A settlement was eventually reached, although the Trump Management pressed how the agreement was not an admission of guilt.
Using the information at hand, Kaufman asserted how Guthrie would be horrified at the state of politics today.
“Woody was always championing those who didn’t have a voice, who didn’t have any money, who didn’t have any power,” Kaufman said. “There’s no doubt that he would have had maximum contempt for Donald Trump, even without the issue of race.”