Old Man Trump

"Old Man Trump" is a song with lyrics written by American folk singer-songwriter Woody Guthrie in 1954. The song describes the racist housing practices and discriminatory rental policies of his landlord, Fred Trump. Although the lyrics were written in 1954, it was never recorded by Guthrie. In January 2016, Will Kaufman, a Guthrie scholar and professor of American literature and culture at the University of Central Lancashire, unearthed the handwritten lyrics while conducting research at the Woody Guthrie Archives in Tulsa, Oklahoma.[1]

In partnership with the Guthrie archives and the Guthrie family, Woody's words have been put to music by California rock band U.S. Elevator, fronted by Johnny Irion, who is married to Sarah Lee Guthrie, Woody's granddaughter.[2] "Old Man Trump" has also been recorded by riot folk singer Ryan Harvey with Ani DiFranco and guitarist Tom Morello, as well as by independent artist/musician Chip Godwin.[3]


In December 1950, Woody Guthrie signed a lease at the Beach Haven apartment complex owned and operated by Fred Trump in Gravesend, Brooklyn. There are several handwritten drafts of the lyrics with titles such as "Beach Haven Race Hate" and "Beach Haven Ain't My Home". In its lyrics, Guthrie expresses his dissatisfaction with Trump and the "color line" he had drawn in his Brooklyn neighborhood:[4][5]

I suppose
Old Man Trump knows
Just how much
Racial Hate
He stirred up
In the bloodpot of human hearts
When he drawed
That color line
Here at his Beach Haven family project[6]

The Federal Housing Administration, which fronted the bill for some of Trump's housing projects, had a set of guidelines for avoiding integration which Trump enthusiastically embraced.[7]

"He thought that Fred Trump was one who stirs up racial hate, and implicitly profits from it," the scholar, Will Kaufman, said. In Guthrie's notebooks he wrote about wanting to put an end to the segregation with "a face of every bright color laffing and joshing in these old darkly weeperish empty shadowed windows."[1]

I welcome you here to live. I welcome you and your man both here to Beach Haven to love in any ways you please and to have some kind of a decent place to get pregnant in and to have your kids raised up in. I'm yelling out my own welcome to you.[1]

An unreleased variant of Guthrie's "Ain't Got No Home" similarly protests Fred Trump's segregation at Beach Haven.[8]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c Kaufman, Will. "Woody Guthrie, 'Old Man Trump' and a real estate empire's racist foundations". The Conversation.
  2. ^ "Old Man Trump". 30days30songs.com. Archived from the original on January 26, 2017. Retrieved July 20, 2019.
  3. ^ McCarthy, Ciara (June 30, 2016). "Old Man Trump: Tom Morello gives new life to Woody Guthrie's protest song". The Guardian.
  4. ^ Petrusich, Amanda (November 6, 2018). "A Story About Fred Trump and Woody Guthrie for the Midterm Elections". The New Yorker.
  5. ^ Pearl, Mike (March 10, 2016). "All the Evidence We Could Find About Fred Trump's Alleged Involvement with the KKK". Vice.com.
  6. ^ ""Old Man Trump" ~ Woody Guthrie". Woodyguthrie.org.
  7. ^ History, Weird (March 27, 2018). "Trump's Dad Was So Racist, Woody Guthrie Wrote A Song About It". Medium.com.
  8. ^ Dvorak, Petula (June 20, 2020). "'Racial Hate': A famed folk singer, Trump's dad and angry lyrics at a Tulsa landmark". Washington Post. Retrieved June 20, 2020.