Academic journal article Making Connections

Looking for the Drinking Gourd

Academic journal article Making Connections

Looking for the Drinking Gourd

Article excerpt

Foller the drinkin' gou'd

Foller the drinkin' gou'd

No one know, the wise man say.

"Follow the drinkin gou'd."i

When Joe and Eddie and Richie Havens and Pete Seegerii sang about the North Star

The Sun came back, the first quail called, and the dead trees showed the way

"What on earth is the matter with the American Government and people? Do they really covet the world's ridicule as well as their own social and political ruin?"iii

As black gold spews under Mexico and

Texas and

Poison pills prove hate wins



It blackens a Gulf

Grounds free birds and kills baby turtles and baby fish and reeds and glades

And John Brown was crazy?

"If there is no struggle, there is no progress...Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never has and it never will."iv

As troops storm Jamaica and Haiti shakes

South Africa hosts theWorld Cup

And Jacob Zumav rules the roost

As Rochester schools re-segregate by race and distance

Classes clash and questions not asked

You can't blame the youth

But back in the day Douglass' sons wore sabers and stripes

Joined the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry Regiment

Paved asphalt on the trail rocked from slave escapes

Charles and Lewis rugged and steeled from

Their father's polished prose

By the rivers of Babylon they did not sit down

They saw another river on the other side

Where Peg Leg Joe's strategic songs and star maps

Showed the way to the drinking gourd

Showed the way to the North Star

To Polaris, Express!


i Follow the Drinking Gourd is a spiritual said to come from the time of the Underground Railroad, with the gourd representing the North Star, the illuminated beacon of freedom for escaped slaves. …

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