Tag Archives: underground railway

“for to carry you to freedom”: a remembrance day song

helping hands blog awardin a few days, november 11, it’s remembrance day here in canada, or veterans day in the U.S.

many wars were and are still being fought, and many struggles. writing a novel about a slave on a louisiana plantation, one of the struggles that is foremost in my mind is the one against slavery in the U.S.

may we remember then today the women, children and men who fought against this horrible injustice, starting with capturing people from their homelands, to the unimaginable suffering in the middle passage, to the inhumane exploitation of slavery on farms, in factories, on plantations.

some of these women, children and men fought by jumping on the underground railroad to canada, from where they helped more to escape into freedom.

one of the songs from that era, legend has it, is follow the drinking gourd. the drinking gourd is the big dipper. look up at the sky, it says, and look for the big dipper. follow it north, “for to carry you to freedom”. watch this video and listen to the song. here are the lyrics:

when the sun comes back,
and the first quail calls,
follow the drinking gourd,
for the old man is waiting
for to carry you to freedom
if you follow the drinking gourd.

chorus:
follow the drinking gourd,
follow the drinking gourd,
for the old man is waiting
for to carry you to freedom
if you follow the drinking gourd.

the riverbank will make a very good road,
the dead trees show you the way.
left foot, peg foot traveling on,
following the drinking gourd.
the river ends between two hills,
follow the drinking gourd,
there’s another river on the other side,
follow the drinking gourd.
when the great big river meets the little river,

follow the drinking gourd.
for the old man is waiting
for to carry you to freedom
if you follow the drinking gourd.

(more renditions and an interesting history of the song here)

i’d like to dedicate this post to sojourner. if you visit here regularly, you already know about her sunday inspirations.

sojourner doesn’t only inspire on sundays. she does it all week long. she inspires and reaches out, reaches out her hand to continue the human chain of peace and compassion that is so strong all throughout the blogosphere, just like less than 200 years ago, our ancestors were giving each other a hand on the way to freedom.

the other day sojourner gave me the huge honour of her helping hands award. this is probably the best blogging award i have ever gotten. today, i just want to shout out a big THANK YOU to sojourner. in the next week or so, i’ll tell you a bit more about the award. it deserves its own post.

this is part of my remembrance day songs series.  interested in more?  

  • the last remembrance day song for 2007: canto libre by victor jara view post
  • remembrance day songs for a different kind of soldier view post
  • remembrance day songs for 2007 view post
  • remembrance day songs, part II view post 
  • remembrance day songs view post