Woody Guthrie: This land is my land and I won’t let them take it away.
Featured Image: Woody Guthrie, half-length portrait, facing slightly left, holding guitar / World Telegram photo by Al Aumuller. By New York World-Telegram and the Sun staff photographer: Al Aumuller, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.
Woody Guthrie or Woodrow Wilson Guthrie (1912-1967); whose birth anniversary we note on 14 July; was the voice of the marginalized; especially those hit by the drought in the west of the U.S.A. during the late 1920s-early 1930s – what has been called the “dust bowl”. (1)
This land is your land, this land is my land, from California to New York island,
from the redwood forest to the Gulf Stream waters, this land was made for you and me.
Nevertheless; many lost their farms due to unpaid bank loans; and others moved to the greener pastures of California; where they were not particularly welcomed. However; nearly all were U.S. citizens; and they could not be deported to another country.
Times have changed. Today, there are the homeless who would like to reach the U.S.A. There has been a good deal of media attention given to those at the frontier; including those who have died trying to reach the U.S.A.
Less media attention has been given to those living in the U.S. and who are being deported to their “home country” although some have been living in the U.S. since childhood and could sing:
“This land is my land.”
A large number of persons; an estimated three million, were deported during the 8-year presidency of Barack Obama; with relatively little attention given except by specialists. The more flamboyant speeches of former President Trump have awakened more people to the issue of deportation; and the conditions in which people are held prior to deportation.
Those in danger of deportation are not organized in a formal way. The U.S. trade union movement is a weak organizational force; whose membership has vastly declined. In practice; trade unions never fought to protect “illegal” foreign workers; even when trade unions were stronger. There are legitimate, non-racist concerns that an influx of immigrants will lower wage rates and overburden welfare services. These non-racist concerns join in with the noisier, racist-voices.
U.S. President Barack Obama‘s official photograph in the Oval Office on 6 December 2012. By Official White House Photo by Pete Souza, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.
President Donald Trump poses for his official portrait at The White House, in Washington, D.C., on Friday, October 6, 2017. (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead). By Shealah Craighead, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.
Opposition to deportation has come largely from religious-spiritual groups stressing human dignity and using places of worship as sanctuaries; in which to house people in danger of deportation. This sanctuary movement began in the early 1980s to provide safe-havens for Central American refugees fleeing civil armed conflicts. Obtaining refugee status and asylum in the U.S. was difficult.
Some 500 congregations joined the sanctuary movement to shelter people; based on the medieval laws which protected church building against soldiers. Other congregations used the image of the Underground Railroad which protected runaway slaves prior to the Civil War.
Photo by Tungsten Rising on Unsplash.
Woody Guthrie would no doubt lend his singing voice.
There is now a new sanctuary movement started in the Age of Trump, focused on the protection of undocumented families from the newly created police of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Woody Guthrie would no doubt lend his singing voice to help those in danger of deportation; as he did for the farmers and workers of the 1930s.
You can also read Rene Wadlow’s: Woody Guthrie: Dust Bowl Blues and Revolt, HERE!.
Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens.