Decades before anyone could fathom Donald Trump as a potential president, legendary American folksinger Woody Guthrie was having his own problems with the Trump family.
In late 1950, Guthrie moved into the Beach Haven apartments near Coney Island in Brooklyn, New York. Before long, he came to suspect that the development had an unwritten policy barring black tenants.
Using the melody of one of his earlier songs, "I Ain’t Got No Home", Guthrie re-worked the lyrics into "Old Man Trump". A diatribe against the apartment building’s developer—and father of the current Republican presidential nominee—Fred C. Trump, the song contains the following lyrics:
Beach Haven ain’t my home!
No, I just can’t pay this rent!
My money’s down the drain,
And my soul is badly bent!
Beach Haven is Trump’s Tower
Where no black folks come to roam,
No, no Old Man Trump!
Old Beach Haven ain’t my home!
In 1952, Guthrie, who wrote such classic songs as "This Land Is Your Land" and "The Sinking of the Reuben James", was diagnosed with Huntington’s disease and chose to move out of the Trump development. He went on to travel and live around much of the United States, eventually dying in 1967.
The Trump Management Corporation was charged in 1973 with violating the Fair Housing Act by the U.S. Department of Justice. In the suit, the government alleged that the organization refused to rent or negotiate rentals on the basis of race and color. Although a settlement was reached, Trump Management was quick to note that its cooperation did not indicate an admission of guilt.
While Guthrie never wound up recording "Old Man Trump", many others have in recent years, including Ryan Harvey (featuring Ani DiFranco and Tom Morello). Watch their version below.
And here’s another, more traditional version by the Missin’ Cousins, along with many great photos.