The literary scholar Will Kaufman has made a remarkable discovery. In 1950, Guthrie, the legendary folk singer whose balladeering would inspire Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen, signed a lease with Fred Trump, father of the current Republican presidential front-runner. Guthrie lived for two years in a Brooklyn apartment the elder Trump owned, but grew upset at the racist policies that the real estate developer used to exclude blacks from his property.
Writing in Raw Story, Kaufman quotes some song lyrics Guthrie wrote to denounce “old man Trump”:
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
As Kaufman notes, both Fred Trump and his son would be investigated by the government for allegedly racist leasing practices. Guthrie’s songs, notably “This Land Is Your Land,” are still folk favorites (albeit with their radical lyrics sometimes truncated). And Billy Bragg and Wilco have released albums covering previously unrecorded Guthrie tracks. Given the fact that the “racial hate” stirred up by “Old Man Trump” is still in the news, perhaps these lyrics also deserve a new life.