Labor Day and Protest Songs: Woody Guthrie’s “Deportee”

Songs, like pictures, have power to change laws and policies, or raise awareness of injustices and inhumane treatment of other people. At least there was a time, not so long ago, when songs and pictures had that power.

In 1948 a plane carrying seasonal workers back to the Mexican border from California orchards crashed over Los Gatos Canyon. 4 Americans and 28 migrant workers were killed. The American press reported on the tragedy without mentioning the names of the Mexican people who died. “Deportee” was written by Woody Guthrie in memory of those unnamed souls. Arlo Guthrie sings the song here.


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