The Black Commentator: An independent weekly internet magazine dedicated to the movement for economic justice, social justice and peace - Providing commentary, analysis and investigations on issues affecting African Americans and the African world.
Feb 10, 2011 - Issue 413

Black History Month
Poem about Harriet Tubman
By Langston Hughes



Note: This is a poem Langston Hughes wrote about the Underground Railroad which Harriet Tubman conducted.

I read in the papers about the Freedom Train
I heard on the radio about the Freedom Train
I seen folks talking about the Freedom Train
Lord, I've been a-waitin for the Freedom Train!
Washington, Richmond, Durham, Chatanooga, Atlanta
Way cross Georgia.
Lord, Lord, Lord
Lord, way down in Dixie the only trains I see
Got a Jim Crow coach set aside for me.
I hope their ain't no Jim Crow on the Freedom Train,
No back door entrance to the Freedom Train,
No sign FOR COLORED on the Freedom Train,
No WHITE FOLKS ONLY on the Freedom Train.
I'm gonna check up.
I'm gonna check up on this
Freedom Train.

Who is the engineer on the Freedom Train?
Can a coal-black man drive the Freedom Train?
Or am I still a porter on the Freedom Train?
Is there ballot boxes on the Freedom Train?
Do colored folks vote on the Freedom Train?
When it stops in Mississippi, will it be made plain
Everybody's got a right to board the Freedom Train?

I'm gonna check up.
I'm gonna check up on this
Freedom Train.

The Birmingham station's marked COLORED and WHITE.
The white folks go left
The colored go right.
They even got a segregated lane.
Is that the way to get aboard the Freedom Train?

I'm gonna check up.
I'm gonna check up on this
Freedom Train.

If my children ask me, Daddy, please explain
Why a Jim Crow stations for the Freedom Train?
What shall I tell my children?
You tell me, cause freedom ain't freedom when a man ain't free.

My brother named Jimmy died at Anzio
He died for real, and it wasn't no show.
Is this here freedom on the Freedom Train really freedom or a show again?

Now let the Freedom Train come zooming down the track
Gleaming in the sunlight for white and black
Not stoppin' at no stations marked COLORED nor WHITE,
Just stoppin' in the fields in the broad daylight,
Stoppin' in the country in the wide-open air
Where there never was a Jim Crow sign nowhere,
And No Lilly-White Committees, politicians of note,
Nor poll tax layer through which colored can't vote
And there won't be no kinda color lines
The Freedom Train will be yours
And mine.

Then maybe from their graves in Anzio
Black men and white will say, We want it so!
Black men and white will say, Ain't it fine?
At home they got a Freedom train,
A Freedom train,
That's yours and mine!

Click here for more about Langston Hughes.