LANGSTON HUGHES – FREEDOM TRAIN

Freedom Train

 

I read in the papers about the Freedom Train

I heard on the radio about the Freedom Train

I seen folks talking about the Freedom Train

Lord, I’ve been a-waitin for the Freedom Train!

Washington, Richmond, Durham, Chatanooga, Atlanta

Way cross Georgia.

Lord, Lord, Lord

way down in Dixie the only trains I see’s

Got a Jim-Crow coaches set aside for me.

I hope their ain’t no Jim Crow on the Freedom Train,

No back door entrance to the Freedom Train,

No sign FOR COLORED on the Freedom Train,

No WHITE FOLKS ONLY on the Freedom Train.

I’m gonna check up.

I’m gonna to check up on this

Freedom Train.

Who is the engineer on the Freedom Train?

Can a coal-black man drive the Freedom Train?

Or am I still a porter on the Freedom Train?

Is there ballot boxes on the Freedom Train?

Do colored folks vote on the Freedom Train?

When it stops in Mississippi, will it be made plain

Everybody’s got a right to board the Freedom Train?

I’m gonna check up.

I’m gonna to check up on this

Freedom Train.

The Birmingham station’s marked COLORED and WHITE.

The white folks go left

The colored go right.

They even got a segregated lane.

Is that the way to get aboard the Freedom Train?

I’m gonna check up.

I’m gonna to check up on this

Freedom Train.

If my children ask me, Daddy, please explain

Why a Jim Crow stations for the Freedom Train?

What shall I tell my children?

You tell me, cause freedom ain’t freedom when a man ain’t free.

My brother named Jimmy died at Anzio

He died for real, and it wasn’t no show.

Is this here freedom on the Freedom Train really freedom or a show again?

Now let the Freedom Train come zooming down the track

Gleaming in the sunlight for white and black

Not stoppin’ at no stations marked COLORED nor WHITE,

Just stoppin’ in the fields in the broad daylight,

Stoppin’ in the country in the wide-open air

Where there never was a Jim Crow sign nowhere,

And No Lilly-White Committees, politicians of note,

Nor poll tax layer through which colored can’t vote

And there won’t be no kinda color lines

The Freedom Train will be yours

And mine.

Then maybe from their graves in Anzio

Black men and white will say, We want it so!

Black men and white will say, Ain’t it fine?

At home they got a Freedom train,

A Freedom train,

That’s yours and mine!

 

 

(1947)

LANGSTON HUGHES

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